It's a devastatingly cruel practice - the 'disposal' of billions of male chicks every year around the world. But now Germany is on its way to become the first country to revolutionise its egg industry practices.
Animal ethics is a topic taking the world by storm. Meat, egg, and dairy production are major industries for many countries, where cruel and disgusting practices are rife in order to meet demand and maximise profits.
But thanks to the tireless efforts of animal rights activists in Germany, one of those practices - 'chick shredding' - is about to become a thing of the past.
Chick disposal: a horrific practice
It's hard to write about, but the horrific practice that is chick disposal needs a voice - a voice on behalf of the billions of chicks that are carelessly sent for slaughter for being non other than male.
That's right, if you are a male chick, you have no use to the industry and are promptly sent to be destroyed.
The practice, often referred to as chick culling, chick disposal, or chick shredding, sees male chicks electrocuted, gassed, or ground live. Why? Because males can't lay eggs and their bodies, according to the industry, are not shaped correctly to maximise meat growth.
Call for change
The egg industry has been battling an ongoing PR crisis for a number of years as its cruel practices reach the newsfeeds of millions of people around the world. And rightly so!
To help stop the cull of so many defenceless chicks, Leipzig University scientists in Germany, together with animal rights activists, have teamed up to lead the charge and change the industry's norms.
Establishing the company Seleggt, the German scientists have identified a way to determine the sex of a fertilised egg before it develops. They do this by extracting a tiny amount of fluid from inside the egg and then testing it for a hormone only present in female eggs. Eggs identified as female will then be kept to hatch.
Unfortunately, this new approach does not protect the fate of the billions of female chicks bred to lay eggs or be fattened up artificially. Additionally, the unhatched male eggs will still be destroyed. However, it goes a long way to spare billions of male chicks from a cruel death post-birth every year.
Coming soon to a supermarket near you (in Germany)
The technology will deliver eggs known as 'Respeggt Free Range Eggs' and will be available for the first time in select German supermarkets this month. The company aims to deliver the technology free to all hatcheries in Germany by 2020.
As more and more people take action against inhumane farming practices, and reduce their animal product consumption, we begin to see a change in old ways, chick disposal included. We've still got a long way to go, but we're taking steps forward to ensure the wellbeing of animals worldwide.
Here's hoping the rest of the world follows suit!
Photos for illustration purposes only