BERLIN (AP) — The German government plans to ban the practice of killing male chicks after they hatch, which results in the death of around 45 million birds per year in the country.
The Cabinet on Wednesday approved legislation that will prohibit the practice from Jan. 1 next year. Government spokeswoman Martina Fietz said that Germany will be the first country in the world to do so.
In a second step, the killing of chick embryos in the egg will be prohibited after the sixth day of incubation starting on Jan. 1, 2024.
Fietz said the government has invested over 8 million euros ($9.7 million) over recent years to help research into alternative procedures to identify the sex of chicks before they hatch.
In June 2019, a federal court ruled that hen breeders could continue to kill male chicks after they hatch but only until new procedures to avoid doing so were in place. It said a company's economic interests don't justify killing male chicks.
It ruled in a long-running case involving a hatchery specialized in egg-laying hens. The hatchery killed male chicks because they were deemed superfluous as they won't lay eggs and the breed was deemed unsuited to raising for meat.
Germany's animal protection law states that no one is allowed to cause an animal pain, suffering or damage "without reasonable cause."