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Are Male Chicks Killed in Grinding Machines?

Are Male Chicks Killed in Grinding Machines?

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.


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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  • nOOb

    Right bellow this article is an add for a grinder

  • The human body is actually healthiest on a vegan diet. We are not as good in handling meat as people think we are. Meat is shown to be a carcinogen. Animal products cause cholesterol to clog up your arteries, being the main cause to cardiovascular diseases, strokes, diabetes type 2 and everything caused by atherosclerosis. Vegans have healthier gut bacteria, healthier cholesterol and testosteron levels, healthier average BMI. We can get all our nutrients from plants, otherwise many vegans would have died by now. Animal proteins are shown to be harmful to your body in many ways, as well as heme iron. Our stomach, intestine and skull show more herbivorous aspects than omnivorous, not kidding!
    You also mention that plants are also alive. First of all, yes, but they don’t have feelings. Second, if they had, you would hurt even more feelings by eating animal products because the animals you eat/use eat many many plants as well.
    I didn’t know all of this a year ago as well, so I’m just trying to spread the word. It really has made me a lot healthier, so I want other people to know.
    You should check out Mic the Vegan on YouTube. He’s great at explaining and shows evidence for everything he says! Please watch, you’ll learn so much from it.

  • Chiyanna

    I agree, but don’t undermine those who aren’t vegan. I’ve done that before and it’s done nothing but make everyone mad at eachother. Somebody cusing and saying things like that does need to calm down and find someone to talk to however. They do need to let go of hate and they are scared, scared that no one will understand. Scared of being the minority, scared that all vegans will hate on them and try and change who they are.

  • Chiyanna

    But plants don’t have brains and therefore don’t have emotions, the point is animals are sentient and feel pain and have emotions, plants do not. But that doesn’t mean you have to be a vegan. You can eat meat if you wish. Not eating meat doesn’t make me a better person.

    • nOOb

      Neither do jellyfish or cloned meat

  • Chiyanna

    Actualy chickens can live on their own, they can find grass and bugs. Cats can catch prey like birds and mice, how do you think feral cats survive? Like the ones that are too scared to even approach the food bowl. Farm animals can survive without people, and so can pets.

  • Chiyanna

    Only when the eggs are from my free range flock 🙂 I have 5 hens who are all named and are given proper graves because they are my pet hens. They also lay me omlette ingrediants. XD

  • Chiyanna

    I am completely pro-choice. You learn the truth with no sugar-coating, research, try the other side and then choose. The most important part is to state your opinion without sounding superior, because you aren’t. Also don’t hate, because hate only causes arguments and wars and massacurrs and history repeats itself.

  • Chiyanna

    I am with you to an extent, and I do agree they didn’t choose to be labeled as “products” I am vegetarian and I like to eat eggs from my beautiful free range flock who I give names and pet. But don’t undermine their opinion either. State yours and don’t try to sound superior about it. Although I agree that killing animals for meat can never be humaine and that change is coming if change does come, and meat eaters become the minority don’t undermine them. This always happens, the minority becomes majority and then they undermine all the other minorities. I don’t wish this to happen AGAIN. I suggest no more suger-coating. You see the truth, try both ways, and then choose for yourself. This is the way the world should be, no suger coating, everyone chooses for themselves once they know the whole story. Nobody hates on the other side. You can discuss and maybe a little argue, but no hate. I know you weren’t really hating I’m just saying no one should hate.

  • Zebra Bus

    Damn, Ken. Quit being practical. It bothers me lol! I guess our job is to educate ourselves as to the best way we can provide for ourselves and cause the earth as little grievance as possible in the process. Love raising my own chickens – it amazes me that something can feed me for years without losing its life : )

  • Osperey 28

    You may want to check your sources Kat, a very high majority of omnivores are not heartless bastards who want to watch every single animal burn in a fire for our pleasure. Lastly, looking at your posts throughout the comments, you’re a troll. (nature is cruel I know.)

  • Osperey 28

    because *99% corporations are the scum of the earth, thats why

  • Notmyrealname

    I would just like to say… To all of you vegans… And people who sympathize with these tiny yellow meat globs… And anyone who… Cried during the video… You guys are completely ridiculous… When will people learn to laugh at what’s really funny in life??? Like the culling of baby male chicks… That’s pretty hilarious if you ask me… You guys should do some more research if you’re bothered by it… It doesn’t matter how “humane” you think this whole thing is… Who’s to dictate what is “humane” and what isn’t? An entire country was okay with the gassing of jews at one point… I’m not saying it’s “inhumane” to gas jews, but people don’t tend to make up their minds on what they do think is, and isn’t humane…

    • Chiyanna

      I would just like to say…what if all your male children were put in a gigatic griniding just because they were male and all your female children exploited and killed entill they couldn’t produce anymore by some egotistical alien race that thinks they are inteluctualy superior and have more emotions than us. YOU NEED HELP IF YOU THINK THIS IS FUNNY! I mean it can be hard to leave eating meat behind and I can listen to you if that is the reason but if you think this is funny you are probably a phycopath. PLEASE GET HELP!

  • Tropics

    It’s too cruel people. What’s wrong with you jerks?

  • Olog Hai

    Chicken eggs of any kind? Even if you own and raise the chickens yourself?

  • Rich Mumford

    Is anyone able to confirm whether this occurs in the United Kingdom and if so, whether it affects all types of eggs (for example some are held out for sale as “free” range”, “woodland” and so on). Would be very grateful for any help with this.

    • Fallopia Tuba

      Why would this not occur in a chicken-producing country? Here in the USA even sanctuaries are reluctant or unable to take any more roosters because of the sheer volume.

      The bottom line is that it’s impractical to raise all these chicks to maturity, since an egg-laying chicken (hen or rooster) is not useful as a meat chicken, even when full-grown. There are different varieties, and broilers are distinctly different than layers.

  • Robert Zeurunkl

    Some animals ARE products.

    • Ken

      Yes they are. Ask 8 billion humans.

      • Zebra Bus

        Most unfortunately, you are absolutely correct.

    • Chiyanna

      By human standards yes. Some HUMANS are products to some. It’s horrid, just horrid how humans think. We are creatures who somehow got this far that are full of greed. And now the most valuable thing in the world is green paper (other colors for other countries) and coins and people do these kinds of things to get more of it because they want to wave it arround in the air like idiots
      thinking that being rich actualy will matter in the end. I mean like death, where does all that money go when you die? Maybe to children or a million other people. But it’s no longer yours. You’re dead and all you did was hoard paper. People do anything for money and eventualy the human race will learn a lesson if it doesn’t turn itself arround. Money, power, Race, Politics, Religion, humans make things so much more complictated and make a ton of problems and I think it’s about time we do something to make up for all the greif we caused the world and eachother.

      • Robert Zeurunkl

        Hmmmmn. That’s odd. I turn my colored paper into food for my kids, education, housing….. Strange choice you’ve made for your colored paper, but to each their own, I suppose.

  • NC

    And who is going to take care of millions of male baby chicks? If they survive, they are going to have miserable lives of starvation and mistreated. Better that they be euthanized. And if they have to be euthanized this way is much better than suffocation.

    • Olog Hai

      These birds are quite adept at finding their own food, even as capons. Instead of forcing them to be in unnatural surroundings (think about the unnecessary capital expenditure of even building these industrial behemoths), put them outside. Unless of course it’s “more profitable” to let the food source of these birds multiply to plague proportions?

      • nOOb

        Their remains are used in catfood so they have to die

  • Animal Lover

    This makes me so disappointed in human kind. It’s ridiculous. I give the man who went under cover to reveal this horrid secret a hand. It takes serious courage and a strong commitment to do this. The man who took that video was from the “Mercy For Animals” group and was very suspicious. I could have never done what he did. And “meat” I feel sorry that you were probably abused on your childhood and had your heart ripped out. When I am old enough to own land I will have a farm and eat only what comes off my farm and make sure that the animals I eat are killed humanely. God bless the animals. P’s I cried the whole way through the video :'(

    • Chiyanna

      Hey person, share this. DO SOMETHING NOW! Try becoming vegetarian because getting free range or organic is too expansive and actualy doesn’t mean what it says. DO SOMETHING NOW NOT LATER! TELL PEOPLE, STOP BUYING FROM FACTORY FARMS. I don’t care how old you are do SOMETHING if you really care.

  • Meat eater

    I am an advocate meat eater, and while I eat meat, I believe pasture raised meats, as well as pasture raised poultry/dairy products should be the only way human beings were intended to consume these commodities . I respect vegans, and in no way condemn their choices. The treatment of the animal is just as important as the way you prepare it. The best meats/poultry products you can consume come from animals that have been treated the best. There should be no reason why these animals are treated this way, and its dumbfounding how anyone can condone these actions. I would much rather pay $7.50 for a carton of eggs, knowing I actually am getting the best quality product, versus paying $4.50 for a carton of cage-free eggs knowing it lacks in nutritional value as well as quality.

    • Fallopia Tuba

      Do you seriously feel all eight billion people in the world are entitled to eat pasture-raised meat? Since the population is growing, not shrinking, where do you propose we raise these animals who are bound for slaughter anyway?

      We’ve almost cut down all the Amazonian rainforest just so we can graze cattle for McDonald’s burgers.

    • Allison Rowley

      lol if you really cared about animals, you wouldn’t be eating them at all. stop kidding yourself.

    • Chiyanna

      OK, but make sure you check your sources, free range and pasture raised don’t mean what you think. Though I would try a veggie burger once. You don’t have to eat it again if it doesn’t taste good. I won’t judge you, but try it out! I tried out meat, tried out fake meat, I ended up eating fake meat because I’m crazy about animals and it didn’t taste too different to me. But you may be diiferent, all I ask is don’t hate on those who don’t and try it once.

  • Mimi

    That is one hell of a job to have. I couldn’t wake up every morning with the thought of grinding baby chicks in my mind.

  • DidIJustReallyReadThat

    I’m pretty sure I lost some brain cells attempting to read Meats comment. Meats auto correct probably gave up on trying to decipher if that was English and switched to another language half through.

  • Moo moo

    Christine. How is your opinion any different then meats? Just because u think that being Vegan will change the world for the better is less cruel to animals? People have been eating animals since day one and will continue too until the end of time.. I personally think there are definitely more humane ways for the meat industry to go about their ways but it’s all about money at the end of the day.. Nothing better the. A big juicy steak for dinner in my opinion. Although I do use a local farm/butcher for my meat and they are very strict about the alway they do things and that’s a good enough change for me as well as most other people in the world.. We don’t push meat on you so don’t push being a vegan on us.

    • Captain

      Moo moo, I can’t help but disagree. I, for one, have never tried pushing vegetarianism or veganism on anybody. Meat-eaters bring up my eating habits 100% more than I do, and you know why they bring it up? To try and push meat on me. You can speak for yourself and you can speak for any individual vegetarian/vegans you have met, but do not speak for anyone else.

    • Chiyanna

      Fair enough, I won’t nag and I won’t push but I have a right to my opinion and though I do beleive animals are sentient and have feelings just like us you can eat meat if you want to. Just remember no matter what way you say it being raised just to be exploited and/or killed isn’t humaine. But that doesn’t mean you have to stop eating meat, I know I don’t know everything, and I’m not superior because I’m vegetarian but there is no real humaine way to slaughter and definately no humaine way to cull. I sugest trying both meat and vegan meat and then deciding for yourself what you would like to do. That’s what I did, and everyone should do it. Like your parents iused to tell you, you don’t know till you try it. Once you try it you can go back to eating meat. I don’t care, you have the right to your opinion.

  • Proud Vegan

    Meat, your view caring about ‘prices of eggs’ is indicative of the selfish human centric speciesism that animal rights people object. Morality and care do not figure, and you see them only as items who are *supposed* to do something for the industry. This is an ideology reeking of carnism and apologism. “The animals of the world exist for their own reasons. They were not made for humans any more than black people were made for whites or women for men.” (Alice Walker)

  • Mimi

    Man, I cried the whole way through the video.

  • Cindy

    What a sad commentary on modern society when showing compassion for animals is ridiculed, as if cruelty were a badge of glory.

    • T.smith

      What about compassion for people? Babies? How many animal rights activists aren’t standing on the corner for infant HUMAN babies?

      • Kasokian

        I think you’ll find that most animal rights advocates are in favour of human rights too! Thankfully, there aren’t millions and millions of human babies thrown into grinders each year, so we don’t have to protest against that.

        • nOOb

          Check any of the recent genocides or how many children die to maintain our lifestyles

  • Owl keeper

    Sadly, this is what happens to male chicks. They don’t all go to waste once killed though – we use day old chicks to feed our owls. Cheap (no pun intended!) and nutritious.

    • Zebra Bus

      There are those who would say that is inhumane. May be, but at least it’s more in balance with nature than the grinding thing. (omg). The Brits have it right – gassing is the most humane; it’s painless. HOW the chick dies is of more concern to me than what they do to it afterwards. In a barnyard, a chick would be much more likely to be taken by an owl than meet its demise any other way.

  • Timothy Campbell

    This kind of deflates the justification “I only eat FREE RANGE eggs!”

    If I was a male chick I think I’d pick the grinder over suffocating in a garbage bag — assuming the grinder was well-maintained, with really sharp blades … and wasn’t prone to jamming like an overloaded paper shredder.

    Enjoy your omelets, everybody!

    • Zebra Bus

      Unfortunately, I agree with you : ) A well-maintained macerator (are there blades on a macerator or is it just a grinder? Sharp blades would be an instantaneous and hopefully painless death – how many times have you cut yourself with a really sharp knife and didn’t know it till you saw the blood lol) would be immediate. Death by suffocation is horrible and takes waaay too long. Don’t think I’d take too kindly to the grinding thing either. So: moral of the story is raise yer own chickens! Or buy from someone who does – but check the place out first : )

    • Chiyanna

      If I was a male chick I’d hide in a crowd of female chicks and hope to not get checked.

    • Chiyanna

      Free range eggs from a local farm where you’ve seen chickens free ranging? Free range from your backyard? To be classified as free range in stores the chickens only need to have an hour of daylight a day. AN HOUR. Also culling still happens. So you aren’t actualy eating free range unless you know your provider. Please check and be careful.

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