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Will a German discovery put an end to chick milling in France?

In the United Kingdom, the job of "sexeur" chicks is to determine whether the animal is a male or a female – CB2 / ZOB / WENN.COM / SIPA

  • A German company has developed in 2018 a technique to determine, before the hatching of an egg, the sex of the chick.
  • In hatcheries, newborn male chicks are most often crushed or gassed as they are considered unnecessary. 45 million are killed each year in Germany, nearly 50 million in France.
  • The association L214 welcomes this new method, but remains nuanced: thousands of chicks, sick or sickly, will surely be killed every year despite everything.
  • The NGO CIWF wants a systematic ban on the elimination of male chicks.
  • 4.3 million euros were committed by France with a company to find a device similar to that of Germany, by 2024.

The discovery may seem innocuous, but it could be crucial. The German company Seleggt (contraction between select, select, and egg, egg), has developed, in 2018, a method to determine, before the hatching of an egg, whether the chick will be a male or a female.

In Germany, according to Seleggt figures, 45 million male chicks are executed every year. Because they can not lay eggs, and they do not have the same flesh as chickens, males are most often killed from birth. Crushed, smothered, intoxicated … The possibilities are numerous. By determining the sex of the embryo before hatching, these killings could be avoided.

Analyze the hormones

Seleggt was founded in March 2017, with funding from the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture. The researchers have developed a simple method: between the seventh and tenth day of incubation, they pierce the shell and remove a liquid from the egg. Thanks to a new patented marker, they analyze the hormones present in this liquid and can deduce the sex of the future chick. Eggs supposed to give birth to males are destroyed and reduced to powder.

Since the end of 2018, eggs destined for food from this sector without shredding chicks have been distributed in 230 REWE and PENNY supermarkets in Berlin. The group hopes to reach 5,500 stores across the country in 2019.

Better, Seleggt wants to make its technology available for the entire poultry sector. "The patented process will be available for the first hatcheries from 2020, says the REWE group at 20 minutes. Later, it will be available for hatcheries around the world. We will offer sexing [tri] as a free local service. "

"There will always be animals eliminated"

In France, Brigitte Gothière, the spokesperson of the L214 animal welfare association, greets a "step forward": "It can only be good," she smiles. It will prevent the crushing of a number of chicks at birth. According to the association, nearly 50 million male chicks are killed in the Hexagon each year, in the laying hen industry. In the foie gras sector, female ducklings are undesirable: around 20 million are crushed each year.

The NGO CIWF also applauds the Seleggt method: "We awarded this company
a trophy for the development of this technique, last year, says Agathe Ginoux, public affairs officer for CIWF France. This is a method that would prevent the elimination of male chicks. The delay is less than nine days of incubation, which is consistent with avoiding any pain to the fetus. "

However, according to Brigitte Gothière, the German method will not permanently eliminate the grinding of chicks. "There will always be stunted animals, in bad shape, considered useless by the industry and that will be eliminated," she laments. L214's spokesperson sees in the long run: "It's good to do some research to try to reduce cruelty, but I think we need to get more height. (…) Can we not imagine a society that considers animals as cohabitants and not as resources available, that we will transform, modify, as we need or want? "

A similar method in France by 2024

In France, it is the decree of December 12, 1997 which defines the authorized methods of the killing of male chicks. They may be killed by a "quick-kill mechanical device" with a device "containing foamy bumps" and large enough that all chicks die immediately. Exposure to carbon dioxide is also a possibility.

On August 29, 2018, then Minister of Agriculture Stéphane Travert (he has since been replaced by Didier Guillaume), had admitted that the method of grinding chicks was "a technique that exists[ait] "And" to which he [fallait] end ". He had also announced that 4.3 million euros had been committed with the company
Tronico "for a device that will allow sexing inside the egg to eliminate male chicks before hatching", by 2024. That is more than five years after Germany.

Agathe Gignoux of CIWF France fully supports Tronico's research. But she gets impatient: "In the meantime, there is a German technique that is available. But it is not validated by the department, since it has not yet done an impact study, while it has been more than a year that it is requested. And to add: "We would also like the Minister [Didier Guillaume] undertakes to prohibit the systematic elimination of male chicks. If there is a strong political commitment, it will push the investment to go in that direction and it will encourage research to get there. Especially now that techniques exist. "


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