Because millionfold killing is cheaper (

Is chick killing prohibited?

Is chick killing prohibited?

Photo: dpa / Jens Büttner

Leipzig. The Federal Administrative Court is discussing the legality of the millionfold killing of male chicks. In 2013, the state of North Rhine-Westphalia wanted to ban hatcheries from the controversial practice. In contrast, two companies complained and were right in the lower courts. Now, the highest German administrative court has to clarify in a basic judgment whether the killing of cows is compatible with the Animal Welfare Act.

What is the problem?

Laying hens are bred for the production of eggs. They are trimmed to lay many eggs in a short time. They hardly use meat. You do not need male animals. The sex could be recognized for decades after hatching. Therefore, the male chicks of livestock breeds massively shredded or gassed – annually, according to the Federal Agriculture Ministry about 45 million animals. Animal rights activists have been running a long storm against this ethically questionable approach.

What must the Federal Administrative Court decide?

The court must in principle clarify whether the killing of chicks is compatible with the animal welfare law. This says in Clause 1 that no one may inflict pain, suffering or harm on an animal “for no reasonable reason”. The then red-green-ruled North Rhine-Westphalia in 2013 referred to it and wanted to ban the killing by decree. Two hatcheries complained about it.

How did the lower court judge?

The Higher Administrative Court (OVG) in Münster in 2016 gave the hatcheries right. There is a reasonable reason for killing the chicks. The OVG weighed up the ethical aspects of animal welfare and human interests in laying hens. So it came to the conclusion that the economic conditions of the hatcheries justified the killing of chicks. The Federal Administrative Court must now check the OVG judgments for their correctness. (Ref .: BVerwG 3 C 28.16 and 3 C 29.16)

Are there no alternatives to killing kicks?

But. Scientists have long been researching methods of sexing already in the hen's egg. The federal government has supported the research with millions of dollars, because she wants to end the killing. There are now several methods with which a sex determination can be made via a small hole in the eggshell. However, they are not yet ready for production and are not used nationwide. In supermarkets of the chains Rewe and Penny there are eggs of laying hens, which were bred with an alternative procedure.

What is the position of the animal rights activists?

»We insist that the Federal Administrative Court does not recognize economic interests as a reasonable reason«, emphasized the German Animal Welfare Association. “Any other verdict would be an ethical scandal and would not be accepted by the vast majority of society.” The animal rights activists also see sex determination in the egg as a temporary solution. The real problem is the extremely specialized breeding of laying hens. The better way is the “dual-purpose chicken” that lays both eggs and meat, so that the hens can be used for egg production and the cocks for the mast.

What does the poultry industry say?

The Central Association of the German Poultry Industry (ZDG) warns against a premature ban on chicks killing. “That would hit all German hatcheries,” said Association President Friedrich-Otto Ripke. The veterinary offices in the federal states would no longer issue permits for killing, many companies would move abroad. Animal welfare was not helped. The industry wants to end the practice – but need a transitional period. dpa / nd

. (TagsToTranslate) Agriculture (t) factory farming (t) livestock (t) Animal protection (t) Tierrechte


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