Italy bans the killing of male chicks in the egg industry in a victory described as ‘historic milestone’

Author: Maria Chiorando

Read Time:   |  20th August 2022

"This is very important news for animals in Italy and is truly historic...Animals are sentient beings that can no longer just be considered industrial waste"

The Italian government has definitively approved an end to the slaughter of male chicks in the egg industry under a new law that will come into effect in late 2026.

Described by animal advocates as ‘a historic milestone in animal welfare legislation in Italy’, the news follows several years of campaigning by Animal Equality Italy, including launching a petition in 2020, which has been signed by more 100,000 individuals.

Male chicks are considered a byproduct of the egg industry as they are unable to produce eggs and therefore are considered useless by the egg industry.

They cannot be used by the meat industry, as they are a different breed of chicken, so between 25 and 40 million male chicks are killed in Italy, with their slaughter typically occurring within the first 24 hours after birth.

Slaughter methods include maceration (shredding/grinding) or suffocation, without the use of stunning techniques – however, from the end of 2026, this will no longer be legal.

Following the launch of Animal Equality’s petition, Assoavi, the trade association of egg producers, announced it is in favour of in-ovo sexing technologies, which can prevent the slaughter of male chicks by sexing the chicks before hatching.

‘Truly historic’ moment for Italy

In a statement, Alice Trombetta, Executive Director, Animal Equality Italy, said: “This is very important news for animals in Italy and is truly historic.

“We are very happy that Parliament has finally approved this amendment that regulates one of the most controversial aspects of the egg production industry.

“Animals are sentient beings that can no longer just be considered industrial waste.

“The selective killing of male chicks that takes place every day will no longer be considered the norm, and institutions must now commit to this fundamental path for the progress of our country and animals, supporting and accelerating the progressive implementation of technologies capable of putting an end to this systematic cruel slaughter.”

Are you looking to switch out eggs for a cruelty-free alternative? Our guide on the best vegan egg replacements will tell you everything you need to know.

Featured image: Szjphoto via Getty images

Written by

Maria Chiorando

Maria is an editor and journalist. Her work has been published by the Huffington Post, the Guardian, TechnoBuffalo, Plant Based News, and Kent on Sunday among other national and regional titles.

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