Italy moves forward with ban on selective culling of male chicks


Italy moves forward with ban on selective culling of male chicks

21 December 2021
Animal Equality

On the 16th of December 2021, Italy's Chamber of Deputies approved a law to ban male chick culling in Italy by the end of 2026. This historic turning point was the result of Animal Equality's campaign and outreach to policymakers.

In the egg industry, male chicks are considered useless for production as they are not able to lay eggs. They can also not be used for meat as they are different species from the more common broiler chickens used by the food industry. For this reason, between 25 and 40 million male chicks are killed every year in Italy. 

Shredded alive or suffocated, the chicks are killed immediately, within the first 24 hours of birth, and without the use of stunning techniques.

Eurogroup for Animal's member Animal Equality Italy launched in 2020 a campaign signed by over 100 thousand people to ask the government and industry to put an end to this terrible situation. Thanks to this work, the trade association of egg producers Assoavi already declared itself in favour of the introduction of in-ovo sexing technologies capable of avoiding the culling of male chicks in 2020. 

The amendment presented today by MP Francesca Galizia, group leader of the 5-star Movement in the EU Policies Committee, called for a ban on the selective culling of male chicks by the end of 2026 and received the support of many other political forces. Now all that is missing is final confirmation in the Senate, expected in early 2022. 

In countries such as France and Germany, the introduction of this legislation in order to avoid the killing of male chicks is expected as early as 2022, while the EU Commission has launched a public initiative to carry out an adequacy check of the current rules on the welfare of chicks.

The amendment approved in the Parliament provides compliance time for updating work procedures and technological status of companies in the laying hen industry. It also supports the introduction and development of technologies and tools for sexing in-ovo embryos that can identify the sex of the chick even before hatching, including through policies to incentivise such technologies.

Today the Parliament has made a choice of responsibility and respect towards animals, sentient beings, who can no longer be just considered industrial waste. The selective killing of male chicks that takes place every day in the egg industry cannot be considered normal and today, the Parliament has chosen to support our proposal that follows the European Union animal welfare standards. It's time to encourage the introduction of in-ovo sexing technologies in Italy, as producers are already doing, and institutions must commit to this fundamental path for the progress of our country and animals.
Alice Trombetta, Executive Director of Animal Equality Italy