The Animal Welfare Committee of the Welsh government has published a report outlining alternatives to culling newly hatched chicks in the egg and poultry industry.
The report looks at culling in different parts of the poultry industry including commercial egg production, chicks and embryos from broiler breeder birds, newly hatched turkey poults and newly hatched ducklings.
The report considers technologies that could help end the culling of newly hatched male chicks in the laying hen industry, eg through identifying the sex of the chick embryos before hatching. The report also examines any welfare risks that might result from newly hatched male chicks no longer being culled.
The report recommends that government should make the routine culling of newly hatched chicks and turkey
poults, due to their sex, illegal as soon as reliable, accurate methods for sexing eggs prior to hatch are available to be implemented in British hatcheries.
When this happens, the import of eggs and of female chicks and poults from production systems in which there is routine culling should be made illegal.
The report also recommends that any future Government welfare labelling scheme should, when defining its standards, take account of whether, in the production system used, chicks or poults are routinely culled due to their sex. The culling of hatched birds that have been wrongly sexed, and of those with evident abnormalities, should continue to be permitted, the report states.