Following appeals from PETA India regarding the common poultry industry practice of killing male and other unwanted chicks in illegal ways, Rajasthan’s deputy director of animal husbandry issued an order stating that killing chicks using crude methods is a clear violation of The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PCA) Act, 1960, and is a punishable offence under it. Accordingly, the order urged district animal husbandry officers to take steps to ensure that poultry hatcheries end cruel chick-killing methods.
The egg industry commonly 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, or drowning them or even feeding them alive to fish.
In our appeals, we pointed out that commonly used cruel methods of killing unwanted chicks violate Section 11(1)(l) of the PCA Act, 1960. We requested that Rajasthan’s Animal Husbandry Department stop using cruel killing methods practised by poultry hatcheries in the state. We also asked that the government require that the egg industry use in ovo sex-determination technology as soon as it’s available and enforce a ban on the killing of male chicks immediately thereafter. This new technology – which has been developed abroad and will be commercially available soon – will allow eggs with male embryos to be destroyed at an early stage of development and spare chicks a horrific death.
According to the 2019 report on Basic Animal Husbandry Statistics released by the Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying, Rajasthan is one of the top egg-producing states in the country – making it especially imperative that it implement in ovo sex-determination technology as soon as it’s available.
At PETA India’s urging, the animal husbandry departments of Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, Kerala, 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 developing 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.