Male chick and female duckling culling must be banned, argue several MEPs


Male chick and female duckling culling must be banned, argue several MEPs

16 May 2023
Last Thursday, MEPs gathered at a plenary session at the European Parliament to share their views on banning male chick and female duckling culling. We were pleased to see most of those involved in the debate were against the brutal practice - but now, it’s vital the appropriate steps are taken to phase it out effectively in Europe.

Male chick and female duckling culling is inherently inhumane - where young birds are sent to slaughter at just one day old to be gassed or macerated, as they serve no ‘use’ to European food production. It’s a barbaric way to treat any sentient being - the European Commission must ban the practice in their ongoing revision to the animal welfare legislation.

Fortunately, this is a perspective many MEPs seemed to share at the plenary session held on May 11, where an end to the practice and alternative methods for managing day-old poultry populations was discussed. Some speakers referenced the fact that many Member States have already banned the practice (showing the EU that such a ban can be enacted effectively on a large scale), and that in addition, there has been progress made towards the use of in-ovo sexing technologies, which would determine the sex of these young birds before they hatch and therefore eliminate the need for such cruel slaughter.

Several MEPs showed particularly strong interest in a ban, calling male chick and female duckling culling “cruel”, “brutal” and “devastating”. Among the most passionate speakers were Niels Fulsgang and Clare Daly, who represented Denmark and Ireland respectively. Many MEPs referred to Article 13 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, as well, which acknowledges that animals are “sentient beings”. The clear message was that there is a strong dissonance between this acknowledgement and this barbaric practice, which is still allowed under European law - a dissonance that must urgently be addressed for the welfare of millions of animals each year. 

Based on the responses to this open question and the reaction from policymakers to L214’s event on male chick and female duckling culling in January this year, we’re optimistic that European policymakers will continue to work towards an EU-wide ban with no derogations, ensuring a strong and effective legislation that leaves no male chick or female duckling behind, no matter their ‘use’ assigned by the industry. The European Commission can draw inspiration from the Member States who have already made progress in this area, and have at their disposal the latest science that shows much more humane alternatives to the practice are available and viable.