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Male Chick Culling: Are male chicks killed in broiler production?

Healthy male chicks are not euthanized in broiler production (chickens raised for meat, not eggs). Both healthy male and females are hatched and raised in broiler production.

What is chick culling? 

Chick culling is the process of identifying unhealthy, newly-hatched chicks that are not fit for placement on a broiler farm. Chick culling occurs at the hatchery in all types of production including conventional, free-range or organic.

Most broiler hatcheries hatch hundreds of thousands of chicks every week, if not more. The vast majority of those chicks are healthy and go on to the farm to grow and thrive. There is a very small percentage of chicks, unfortunately, that are hatched with an illness or some other adverse condition. While only a small percentage, chicken companies take every measure to prevent this from happening. When it does, companies will humanely euthanize a sick or injured chick in order to prevent further suffering.

The culled chicks are humanely euthanized via methods approved by the American Veterinary Medical Association.

Why are male chicks sometimes culled in the egg-laying industry?

Because male chickens do not lay eggs, they usually are culled and humanely euthanized in accordance with approved veterinary standards soon after they hatch.

Egg farmers recognize and share the concerns about male chicks and egg production.

The United Egg Producers, a trade association representing the egg industry, provided this statement on the elimination of male chick culling:

‘United Egg Producers and our egg farmer members support the elimination of day-old male chick culling after hatch for the laying industry.  We are aware that there are a number of international research initiatives underway in this area, and we encourage the development of an alternative with the goal of eliminating the culling of day old male chicks by 2020 or as soon as it is commercially available and economically feasible.  The U.S. egg industry is committed to continuing our proud history of advancing excellent welfare practices throughout the supply chain, and a breakthrough in this area will be a welcome development.’

To download a PDF of this FAQ on broiler chicken welfare, click here.