Promise of research being funded to eliminate inhumane culling of male chicks in the poultry-breeding industry

One of the current standard practices of poultry breeding companies that supply egg-laying hens to the egg farming industry is the way breeders of laying hens eliminate male chicks. This is a global issue.

Some of the methods used for disposal of male chicks are:

High Speed Maceration, Carbon Dioxide (gas) they are the most common.

Decapitation, cervical dislocation, carbon monoxide gas and electrocution are also used but not common (due to human safety issues in hatcheries).

Death by drowning, suffocation by piling chicks in disposal containers, chloroform, ether, cyanide or thermal exhaustion – are not frequently used.

We at Humane Farm Animal Care want change in this area. There is promising research on sexing embryos that would eliminate these methods of male chick euthanasia. For those of you who have written to us on this issue, I have urged you to contact the Honorable Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Agriculture at the U.S. Department of Agriculture urging him to put money into this type of research in order to eliminate the practice of maceration and the other practices mentioned above as a viable alternative. It appears this is not a priority on the research list of the USDA.

Finally – There is at last some hope in this area. Unilever has committed to funding research in this area. They announced today:

In our corporate position statement on Farm Animal Welfare we have included our commitment to engage with the egg production industry, the animal welfare community and R&D companies to develop alternative options for the current practices.

We are committed to providing financial support to research and market introduction of in-ovo gender identification (sexing) of eggs, a new technology that has the potential to eliminate the hatching and culling of male chicks in the poultry-breeding industry. We are arranging meetings with animal-welfare experts, egg industry organizations, suppliers, and other stakeholders to develop a multi-stakeholder dialogue and tangible steps to address this important issue and explore alternative options.

To read the entire announcement:

Please write to Unilever and thank them for investing money into important research that will end so much suffering for so many male chicks. You can write to them at: