Current Events

Are Male Chicks Killed in Grinding Machines?

Are Male Chicks Killed in Grinding Machines?
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Memes circulating online claim that the egg industry kills millions of baby chicks in grinders every week simply because they are male.

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It’s true.

The process of “chick culling” involves the killing of recently-hatched chicks which are of no use to breeders, which in this case are most of the male chicks. Approximately 200 million chicks are euthanized each year.

Let’s take a look at the graphic that has been circulating in mid-2013.

Chick Culling meme

The graphic reads: The EGGS industry kills millions of chicks every week throwing them ALIVE into grinding machines or garbage bags! Just because they are male.

The maceration process (described as “grinding” in the graphic above) is defined by the American Veterinary Medical Association as:

Maceration, via use of a specially designed mechanical apparatus having rotating blades or projections, causes immediate fragmentation and death of  poultry up to 72 hours old and embryonated eggs.

You can view a video of the chick culling process here.

In the egg industry, male chicks are of no use to egg-producing facilities, and are therefore killed immediately (typically within 15 minutes) after hatching. There are several techniques used for euthanasia, such as gassing, live disposal, electrocution, or even neck-breaking. Maceration is recommended as humane because death is “almost instantaneous.”

2009 Petition

Chicago-based animal rights group Mercy for Animals petitioned grocery chains to included labels on egg cartons that would read, “Warning: Male chicks are ground up alive by the egg industry.” The egg industry balked at the suggestion, claiming that the intent of the petition was to undermine egg consumption completely.

2014 Meme

In 2014, a new variation of the graphic above widely circulated online.

chick-culling

The caption included with the graphic above reads:

If you eat commercial eggs you are causing this. These males are thrown away LIVE like life-less trash because they won’t produce eggs. There are 3 things you can do about it.
1. Ignore because it’s too painful and you don’t know what to do.
2. You can do something. Anything. Share this.
3. Or you can join the fight to bring humanity back by actively joining related causes and raising awareness.

It’s up to you. But you get ZERO respect for choosing option 1.

2015 UK Update

In early 2015 it was reported that Britain had a shortage of “chick sexers” which are workers who manually divide chicks into males and females. It was suggested that the shortage “might have something to do with having to send all male chicks to be gassed to death.”

The British Egg Information Service told The Independent that gassing was “the only method used” to cull chicks in the U.K. because it was said to be more humane.

A British animals rights spokesperson was also quoted in the article, stating, “That their few short hours of life are ended in a gas chamber or minced alive in an industrial macerator is beyond cruel.”

Bottom Line

The process of disposing of male chicks, known as chick culling, is common in the egg industry. This practice has gained more attention in recent years due to social media sharing of memes such as those above.

Updated August 10, 2015
Originally published June 2013

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