Eliminating chick culling in America will spare millions of hens and chicks from suffering

June 20, 2016

Last week, United Egg Producers announced that it would commit to eliminate the live-shredding and grinding of baby male chicks by 2020 following conversations with The Humane League. The impact of ending chick culling in America — the second largest egg producing country in the world — is calculated to eradicate the suffering of approximately 260 million chicks and remove nearly 1 million hens from egg production each year.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Hatchery Production statistics, there were exactly 565.598 million eggs hatched for the purposes of egg production in 2015. If half of them are males, the number of male chicks born is approximately 283 million. Because male chicks will not produce eggs or grow efficiently for meat, this means that the egg industry currently throws 283 million day-old, living male chicks into a high speed grinder, gasses them, or slaughters them by other means. As United Egg Producers represents 95% of all eggs produced in the country, a conservative estimate of the impact of the cooperative's commitment would measure that approximately 260 million male chicks will no longer be slaughtered each year.

In addition, the average hen laid 276 eggs in 2015 according to the USDA's Chickens and Eggs annual report. Considering the conservative estimate of 260 million male chicks being spared from cruel slaughter and factoring in that each hen lays 276 eggs annually, it is estimated that abolishing chick culling will remove approximately 950,000 hens from factory farms each year.

United Egg Producer's support to eliminate the culling of newborn male chicks is a historic tipping point. Based on USDA numbers, The Humane League estimates that United Egg Producers' commitment to end the slaughter of male baby chicks will prevent the horrific killing of 700,000 chicks each day. The support from every community - scholars, farmers, and advocates alike - has been incredible since UEP announced the end of this cruel practice, proving again that society increasingly cares about the suffering of farmed animals.

To learn more about The Humane League's involvement with United Egg Producer's commitment and the impact of eliminating of chick culling, check out a portion of the coverage by The Washington Post, Huffington Post, National Geographic, Vox, Wired, and NPR's Marketplace. This news has made its way around the globe, sparking conversations in England, Italy, Germany, Sydney, China, Mexico and Poland, and we intend to take our momentum and success worldwide.