Following appeals from PETA India regarding the common poultry industry practice of killing male and other unwanted chicks in apparently illegal ways, Kerala’s director of animal husbandry ordered district animal husbandry officers to take steps to ensure that private hatcheries do not handle unwanted chicks in cruel ways.
The egg industry commonly kills male chicks because they can’t lay eggs, while both the meat and egg industries routinely kill other unwanted chicks as well, including those who are weak or deformed. Common methods include grinding, crushing, burning, or drowning them or even feeding them while still alive to fish. (The director confirmed that male chicks on government farms are not killed this way.)
In our 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. We requested that the Kerala State Animal Husbandry Department stop any cruel killing methods practised by poultry hatcheries in the state and that the government require that the egg industry use in ovo sex-determination technology as soon as it’s available. This new technology – which was developed abroad and will be commercially available soon – would allow eggs with male embryos to be destroyed at an early stage of development, sparing live chicks a horrific death.
According to the 2019 report on Basic Animal Husbandry Statistics released by the Ministry of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries, Kerala is one of the major egg-producing states in the country – making it especially imperative that it implement in ovo sexing technology as soon as it’s commercially available.
At PETA India’s urging, the animal husbandry departments of Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Uttar Pradesh have also issued similar orders directing an end to illegal and cruel practices for killing chicks.
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.
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