Alternatives for killing day-old chicks

In the current practice, male chicks of layer breeds are killed after hatch. Approximately 45 million male chicks are killed annually in The Netherlands. This symposium addressed a number of alternatives for this practice.

Organisator Wageningen University, Wageningen Institute of Animal Sciences (WIAS), Wageningen Livestock Research

ma 8 september 2014 14:00 tot 16:00

Locatie Hof van Wageningen, Lawicks Allee 9, 6701 AN Wageningen
For finding alternatives for the killing of male day-old chicks, research shows a number of leads, but no method is ready to be applied in practice.

This was the conclusion of a symposium organised by Wageningen-UR on Monday, September 8th. The symposium was attended by 40 participants from the poultry breeding and hatchery sector, research organisations, Ministry of Economic Affairs, and NVWA. The current status and outcome of various research projects on alternatives for killing day-old chicks, and the societal and ethical implications thereof, were presented and discussed. The upcoming legislation on killing day-old chicks in a number of German states may give even more impetus to efforts to find alternatives. Sexing of eggs before incubation would be most ideal, as no developed embryo is killed in that way. No ready method is available, however, although the obtained results suggest there may be more possibilities. Sexing during incubation, e.g. on day 9 or 10, is possible, but may be difficult or expensive to implement in practice.

It was shown that hens can be treated to lay fewer male eggs. However, these treatments were intended for research purposes and cannot be applied in practise. Methods that make use of genetic modification are currently not investigated because of insufficient public support. Ethical considerations try to weigh arguments such as intrinsic value, utilization, length of life, and ecological footprint. Solving one problem gives rise to new dilemma's.

Symposium Program September 8th 2014
13:30 - 14:00 Arrival and coffee
14:00 - 14:10 Simon Vink, Wageningen UR concernstaf: Opening and scope of this afternoon
14:10 - 14:25 Henri Woelders, Wageningen UR Livestock Research, ABGC: Overview of research on potential alternatives for killing of day-old chiks at Wageningen UR
14:25 - 15:00 Vivian Goerlich-Jansson, Universität Bielefeld and Ton Groothuis, University of Groningen, Biology of avian sex ratio bias
15:05 - 15:15 Break
15:20 - 15:40 Wouter Bruins (In Ovo BV, Leiden): State of the art of sexing incubated eggs
15:40 - 16:00 Mariëlle Bruijnis. Wageningen University, Adaption Physiology, Ethics in Life Sciences: Ethical and societal aspects of alternatives for killing day-old chiks
16:00 Discussion and drinks