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Animal Equality Demands End to Mass Slaughter of Male Chicks in Spain

On 7th February, Animal Equality in Spain took a stand for the 35 million chicks that are brutally killed annually by the Spanish egg industry. Their direct appeal to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Food demanded an immediate ban of the mass killing of male chicks in Spain, coupled with a series of proposed amendments to existing legislation.
13/02/2024 Updated: 14/02/2024

Seizing a critical opportunity, their call to action zeroed in on a specific piece of legislation known as a ‘Royal Decree’ in Spain, which governs the marketing of eggs in the country – a law the Ministry had actively sought public input on since January.

The team urged the Ministry to expand the decree’s objectives to prioritise the highest level of legal protection for animals.

Several crucial amendments to the legislation were proposed including:

  • An implementation of measures to prohibit the culling of male chicks before 31st December 2026.
  • Promotion of the knowledge and use of technologies for ‘in ovo sexing,’ allowing for the determination of the embryo’s sex before development.
  • Enforcement of inspections to ensure compliance with these provisions.

This action follows years of relentless campaigning in Spain, urging the Government to outlaw the slaughter of male chicks and advocate for the adoption of ‘in ovo’ sexing technology.

So far, Animal Equality in Spain has garnered significant public support for the ban, amassing over 65,000 signatures on their petition. Additionally, they have undertaken groundbreaking research, culminating in the publication of a pioneering report in Spain. This report explores various technological solutions, focusing on pre-hatching sex identification, which could effectively end the egg industry’s practice of culling male chicks.

According to Special Eurobarometer 533, which carries out surveys to assess Europeans’ attitudes towards animal welfare, 67% of Spaniards consider that killing male chicks just after hatching is an unacceptable practice, further bolstering support for the ban.

It is about time the Spanish Government enacted change. However, despite those in charge expressing support for banning chick slaughter at a European Union meeting in October 2022, no concrete action has been taken since. As a result, 35 million chicks in Spain alone continue to suffer a gruesome fate, being gassed or ground up alive without being stunned, within their first 24 hours of life – equating to 95,890 innocent lives lost every day.

Across Europe

Across Europe, there’s a growing awareness of the appalling practice of chick culling in the egg industry, prompting more and more countries to take decisive action.

Germany stands out as a beacon of progress, having already implemented a ban on the culling of male chicks.

Similarly, in France, while egg companies are currently still permitted to kill male chicks from white hens, there has been a noticeable decrease in the number of culled chicks overall.

Italy has made significant strides. Following relentless campaigning by Animal Equality, Italy announced in 2022 a ban on the killing of male chicks, set to come into effect in 2026, saving millions of lives every year.

However, the UK, like Spain, lags behind in this regard, with an alarming annual cull of approximately 29 million male chicks.

Despite these challenges, the success achieved in Italy provides a glimmer of hope that change is on the horizon.

It is evidence that when we work hard for a better animal world for animals, we achieve groundbreaking change. Between 25 to 40 million baby chicks a year will not be ground up or asphyxiated alive in Italy, thanks to Animal Equality and our supporters

Sharon Núñez, President of Animal Equality

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Consider this staggering fact: worldwide, approximately seven billion male chicks meet a cruel fate each year. To put it in perspective, that’s over three-quarters of the world’s population.

The reason behind this mass slaughter is simple but heartbreaking: male chicks cannot lay eggs, and they’re not the same breed used for meat. Consequently, the egg industry deems them worthless and resorts to brutally killing them, often using extremely cruel methods.

Sadly, in most countries, this practice is legal.

While Animal Equality works tirelessly to advocate for legal changes in this area, one of the most impactful ways individuals can help these innocent chicks is by choosing to forgo eggs and opt for plant-based alternatives instead.

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