Following appeals from PETA India regarding the common poultry-industry practice of killing male and other unwanted chicks in illegal ways, the joint director of Bihar‘s Department of Animal Husbandry issued directions to district animal husbandry officers to ensure that poultry hatcheries stop using cruel and illegal methods of killing chicks and instead methods prescribed by the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI).
Through the order, the state government also made a pioneering policy decision, at our request, that once in ovo sex-determination technology – which identifies male embryos at an early stage of development so that an egg rather than a live bird can be destroyed – is commercially available in India, the killing of male chicks must be stopped. This new technology is being developed abroad and will be commercially available soon.
Currently, the egg industry typically kills male chicks because they can’t lay eggs, while both the meat and egg industries routinely destroy other unwanted chicks, including those who are weak or deformed. Common killing methods include grinding, crushing, burning, and drowning them and even feeding them alive to fish.
In its appeals, PETA India pointed out that the common cruel methods of killing unwanted chicks violate Section 11(1)(l) of The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960.
At PETA India’s urging, the animal husbandry departments of Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh have also issued similar orders directing an end to current illegal and cruel chick-killing practices.
Germany – which has invested €5 million (Rs 400 million) in sex-determination technology – as well as France and Switzerland have taken steps towards banning the shredding of live male chicks, which is commonly practised abroad.
The gruesome killing of countless male chicks simply because they can’t lay eggs is cruel and should be stopped.
We’re grateful to the Bihar government for recognising that cruel chick killing must end and for setting a benchmark for all states and union territories in the country to follow.