Maceration of male chicks

Maceration of male chicks

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It’s understandably upsetting to think of young chicks being killed. It raises an ethical issue and, if not carried out humanely, can be a welfare issue too.

We understand that the majority - if not all - male chicks in Britain are currently killed using inert gas but maceration is also allowed.

We are pleased that research is being carried out to look at ways of sexing chicks at an early stage - whilst still in the egg - to prevent the need to kill live male chicks.

We are following these developments with interest.

What do the RSPCA welfare standards, used by RSPCA Assured members, allow?

The RSPCA standards only allow certain methods of killing day-old chicks and have strict requirements about how this practice must be managed.

Whilst we fully understand that the thought of it can be distressing, both maceration - which kills chicks instantaneously - and the use of inert gases (such as argon or nitrogen) as well as inert gas mixtures can offer humane methods of euthanasia, as long as they are carried out correctly by trained, competent staff.

The RSPCA welfare standards set strict parameters stating how both of these methods must be carried out to ensure this is the case.

These standards - used by RSPCA Assured members - are much stricter than the basic minimum required by law.