Thursday, May 19

Agriculture. The grinding of male chicks is now prohibited, manufacturers have until the end of 2022 to adapt

The elimination of male chicks at birth in the laying hen sector has been prohibited by the government, which nevertheless gives French hatcheries until the end of 2022 to change their practices, according to a decree published on Sunday in the Official Journal.

This measure, demanded in particular by animal rights associations, had been expected for several years in France, the leading egg producer in Europe. It is estimated that around 300 million chicken “brothers” are killed each year in the European Union, including 50 million in France, because they are unable to lay the eggs that will end up on our plates.

Five hatcheries specializing in the supply of laying hens to breeders are concerned. Some have started to install machines to determine the sex of embryos in the egg (ovosexing) – and therefore to eliminate males before hatching. The ban on the slaughter of chicks does not concern lines intended for breeding, nor the specific animal feed market – when the chicks are used to feed reptiles or birds of prey, for example.

Machines to determine the sex of the chick before hatching

According to the decree, which provides for a fine for offenders, hatcheries will have to justify during the year that they have indeed ordered ovosexing machines and started work to install them. These materials “allowing the sex of the embryo to be determined no later than the fifteenth day of incubation” out of 21, must operate “no later than December 31, 2022”.

Companies will do their best to meet deadlines.

“It went a little faster than we wanted,” reacted to AFP the president of the egg interprofession (CNPO), Philippe Juven. “As these are new technologies, there are adjustments to be made on these installations. The companies will do their best,” he added, without being able to guarantee that the hatcheries will be able to ovosex all the chicks by the end of the year. Given the “good will” of the sector, he believes that there will be “understanding on the part of the public authorities” if the deadlines are not met.

In 2019, with a view to accelerating the search for alternative options by companies, the Minister of Agriculture at the time, Didier Guillaume, had promised that this practice would be prohibited by the end of 2021. Minister Julien Denormandie had finally assured in the summer of 2021 that 2022 would be “the year of the end of the grinding and gassing of male chicks in France”.

An additional cost for producers that can be passed on to consumers

The elimination of male chicks has been prohibited since the beginning of the year in Germany, where the ovosexing machines have been developed with which French hatcheries must now be equipped. The State must subsidize part of the investment in the hatcheries, amounting to 15 million euros.

As for the ovosexing service, it will make future hens much more expensive. An additional annual cost initially estimated by the profession at 64 million euros, then reduced to 47 million euros. The sector is considering ways to pass on this additional cost to consumers, via a contribution levied on the eggs sold.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.