SPCA response regarding chick destruction

Regarding my previous post, I contacted the SPCA to clarify their policies regarding chick destruction in the egg industry.
The short summary is that the SPCA is aware of this practice but permits it to occur since they are not aware of any other method to separate male chicks before birth.

The SPCA states that they have the goal to change legislation on egg production in New Zealand, I have requested more details on clarification of their future plans.

However, it seems likely that unless I can find a small organic producers of eggs who does not slaughter chicks, I will have to eliminate eggs from my diet.


Thu, 03 Sep 2009 02:54

hi SPCA,

I have a number of concerns about the practice of destruction of male
chicks by egg producers in New Zealand.

In the US, there has been footage taken of shocking chick slaughtering
practices, where large numbers of male chicks are destroyed by being
mulched, because male chicks are not profitable enough to keep alive.

Reference: http://www.mercyforanimals.org/hatchery/

This made me concerned about the welfare standards of chicks in New

I read through the welfare standards document on your website seeking
information on chick destruction.

Your document states "Destruction of male chicks must be in accordance
with the Code of Recommendations and Minimum Standards for the Welfare
of Layer Hens. All hatchery waste must be treated so as to kill
instantaneously any living embryos. Instantaneous fragmentation and
carbon dioxides are accepted methods." 

That sounds like mulching chicks would be acceptable by SPCA standards?

Since the section references the welfare code for NZ, I referred to the
"New Zealand Animal Welfare (Layer Hens) Code of Welfare 2005". 

The NZ code of welfare states that it is acceptable to gas birds to
death or via methods such as neck dislocation. It makes no mention as to
how neck dislocation should take place, after all putting chicks into
mulchers would certainly "dislocate" necks. 

So, from my reading of this, it appears that the SPCA would technically
have no problem with mulching of chicks in order to cull male bird
numbers and that the NZ code of welfare would not be against this

Is this a correct assessment of the SPCA welfare standards?

Thanks in advance for taking the time to review this email and I look
forwards to your response.


Thu, 3 Sep 2009 10:06 NZST

Hi Jethro,

Thank you for expressing your concerns regarding the male chicks.

Because there is no way of sexing eggs at the hatcheries there is no
alternative to allowing male chicks to hatch.  The rules are set down by
the Government in the Layer Hen Code which permits the current practice
of disposal.  

The SPCA is always working towards improving conditions for all animals
including euthanasia but our hands are tied by the legislation.  

You will be pleased to know that the SPCA is continually working to
change various legislations in NZ and this is continuing work in

We thank you for your concern and hope with time these practices will


June Robinson
National Accreditation Scheme Manager
Royal New Zealand SPCA
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