Why are Baby Male Chicks Killed?

Male chicks can’t lay eggs, and therefore the egg industry perceives these chicks as worthless.  Male chicks bred in hatcheries and organic farms aren’t suitable for meat production either since these chicks won’t grow to produce huge legs and breast muscles.

Hatcheries, therefore, kill and dispose of live male chicks within hours after birth to eliminate them since they are worthless.

What is Chick Maceration?

Chick maceration is a standard method of killing unwanted day-old male chicks in the egg industry.  The process entails placing the unwanted birds in a huge, high-speed grinder and then grinding them to death before disposing of the dead chicks.

When Do They Kill Male Baby Chicks?

Hatcheries in the egg-production industry usually kill male baby chicks within hours of birth.  They kill these chicks as soon as possible since they are redundant in the industry and because male chicks will neither be suitable for egg production nor meat production.

How Are Male Chicks Killed?

Hatcheries kill male chicks using various methods.  Most of these methods aren’t humane, and they are subject to criticism from the animals’ welfare community and animal rights advocates.  Below are the common techniques hatcheries use for killing live male chicks.

  • Cervical dislocation– This standard method of chick execution entails exerting pressure on the chicks’ necks and dislocating their spinal columns from their brains or skulls. This execution method separates the chicks’ spinal cords from their brains to provide the birds with a painless and fast death.  However, study shows that this method doesn’t kill chicks immediately, exposing them to extreme pain.  Nonetheless, some veterinary associations and universities, such as the University of Iowa, term this method ethically acceptable for executing small rodents such as mice, squirrels, and rats.
  • Electrocution: This method involves running an electric current through chicks’ bodies until they die. Critics of this method note that it amounts to torturing chicks to death.  The effectiveness of this method in killing unwanted chicks depends entirely on the amount of electrical current used and the duration for which current flows through the chick’s body.  However, this method can be more humane and effective if hatcheries use a high voltage for electrocuting their chicks.  The electrical current should be strong enough to stop the chicks’ hearts from functioning within a second, ultimately killing the chicks almost instantly.
  • Maceration- This is perhaps the most popular and humane method of killing chicks. It is also known as mincing, shredding, or grinding.  It involves placing dozens of chicks in a high-speed grinder and then turning on the grinder, which grinds the chicks into tiny pieces that are easily disposable.  Maceration is among the most acceptable methods of killing unwanted chicks in the US since it leads to instantaneous death.  It is also effective in killing smaller animals such as rabbits, miniature pigs, and poultry birds.
  • Asphyxiation-It is a killing method involving exposing unwanted chicks to an inert gas such as carbon dioxide. This method aims to kill the chicks by depriving them of oxygen in their bodies, ultimately causing organ failure and eventual death.  This method is also acceptable for killing unwanted chicks since chicks will die instantly after breathing in the inert gas.  It is also suitable for killing massive chicks in large-scale hatcheries.
  • Suffocation is a chick-killing method that entails placing unwanted chicks in huge plastic bags. The essence of this method is to cut the oxygen supply to chicks’ organs, especially in their brains.  However, this method isn’t suitable due to its inhumane nature.  It doesn’t kill chicks instantly, and chicks have to suffer for long before they die.  Plus, suffocation isn’t ideal for large-scale hatcheries because it can only kill a limited number of chicks per session.

What Happens to Macerated Chicks?

Hatcheries dispose of macerated chicks because these chicks are worthless and lifeless.  Some incubators also pack the macerated chicks and sell or give them out as food for pets such as dogs or cats.  Other hatcheries bury the macerated chicks in the ground, where they decompose within months.

Egg Companies that Don’t Kill Male Chicks

Most egg companies kill male baby chicks shortly after birth.  Egg companies kill hundreds of millions of male chicks each year.  However, some egg companies don’t kill their male chicks.  Below are a few egg brands that don’t kill live male chicks.

  • United Egg Producers– The company accounts for 95% of egg supplies in the US. The company hasn’t been killing its male chicks since 2020, following a campaign by animal welfare advocates urging companies to stop killing live male chicks.  The company relies on in-oxo sexing technology to identify female and male chicks while still in the eggs.  Due to the invention of this advanced technology, the company has successfully been able to end the senseless killing of male chicks.
  • M.P.S Egg Farms– This is one of the oldest egg companies in the US. The company boasts over 11.1 million hens and owns about 3% of the country’s share in the egg production sector.  The company was among the first companies to commit to stop killing live male chicks in 2020.
  • Michael foods– The egg company, features prominently in the list of leading egg producers in the US. It has over 13.4 million hens.  The company stopped killing live male chicks in 2021 upon heeding the call by animal welfare organizations to end the merciless killing of male chicks.

What Happens to Male Chicks on Organic Farms?

Organic farms have no intention of stopping the cruel vice of killing live male chicks, unlike the prominent egg companies.  Nearly every organic farm kills its male chicks at birth.  They put the chicks into high-speed grinders and then grind the chicks to death.

Organic farms seldom sell their live male chicks to those keen on keeping chickens primarily for meat production.  Male chicks can’t make suitable meat birds for these farms because they cannot grow large muscles.  Worse still, organic farms use cruel methods to kill their live baby chicks.

For instance, some organic farms have been burying their chicks alive rather than electrocuting or macerating their birds.

Conclusion

Hatcheries, egg companies, and organic farms kill their baby male chicks since these chicks are worthless to them.  However, killing male baby chicks isn’t humane since these chicks can still grow into fabulous birds.

Besides, hatcheries and egg companies should embrace humane methods of killing their live baby chicks.

Chickens   Updated: March 24, 2022
avatar Hey, I'm James, a hardworking homesteader for more than 30 years. I enjoy the feeling of accomplishment that comes from tending my flock. I've raised chickens and ducks for eggs and meat for many years. I also have experience with other poultry too.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.