The practice of chick culling in the UK is appalling - Yorkshire Post Letters

From: Lucia Pollan, Sheffield.

During a falconry experience I attended a few weekends ago I watched, horrified, as the falconer fed his birds male day-old-chicks. He explained that he buys them as a “by-product” of the egg industry.

Male chicks have no use or value to the industry since they don’t lay eggs or grow fast enough for meat, and therefore upon finding out their sex at one day old, they are “ethically” culled, according to the RSPCA, and sold to falconers, dog food manufacturers and so on.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

As a self-proclaimed animal lover, vegetarian and environmentalist, I was totally unaware of this when buying eggs.

A photo of a basket of eggs. PIC: Alamy/PA.A photo of a basket of eggs. PIC: Alamy/PA.
A photo of a basket of eggs. PIC: Alamy/PA.

The crazy part is that technology exists to identify the sex of a chick before it develops, eliminating the need to cull healthy, live chicks.

This technology is fully operational in European countries like France and Germany, where chick culling is banned. However, attempts to bring this technology to the UK have so far been unsuccessful because retailers supposedly don’t want UK consumers to become aware of chick culling.

While (unsuccessfully) searching for an ethical farm or wholesaler that didn’t follow this practice, I came across another shocking discovery about the egg industry.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Despite technically having access to the outdoors, hens laying RSPCA-certified free range eggs are subject to ‘beak trimming’, a form of mutilation that prevents them from pecking each other to death when stressed and living in poor conditions, such as large flocks in cramped spaces. The pretty picture on the carton is more an illusion than a reality.

But I don’t think we should blame ourselves for not knowing these things. It’s hard as consumers to feel well informed when big industries are experts at marketing products to hide the true nature of their sourcing.

It’s a shame that, in pursuit of efficiency and profit, a lack of respect for animals and nature has been normalised in “modernised” industrial farming practices.

It’s important to take action when we wake up to marketing campaigns that, underneath, don’t support our values, and make a conscientious effort to shop differently, for instance by using our money to support organic hatcheries certified by the likes of the Soil Association to ensure greater animal welfare.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

While it’s not easy to advocate against a sensitive subject like male chick culling, I think that being informed and having the power to inform others is already a huge step in the fight against the ‘daydream’ consumerism that is supposedly preventing humane technology from reaching the UK, and can help ensure petitions against chick culling, such as those on, get better visibility and have a higher chance of reaching the UK government.