The Animal Husbandry Department has taken steps to ensure that private hatcheries in Kerala do not engage in the poultry industry practice of killing off unwanted male chicks.

Steps have been taken in this regard in response to an appeal made by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India.

According to PETA, it is common practice in the egg industry in India to kill male chicks because they cannot lay eggs while both the meat and egg industries routinely destroy other unwanted chicks as well, including those that are weak or deformed. “Common killing methods include grinding, crushing, burning, drowning, or even feeding them alive to fish,” PETA said.

Responding to the PETA appeal, the Animal Husbandry Director said he had instructed district-level animal husbandry officers to take steps to ensure that private hatcheries did not treat chicks cruelly. Government-run farms did not kill off male chicks. They were sold off at a lower price there, the director said in a letter to PETA India chief executive officer Manilal Valliyate. “The gruesome killing of countless male chicks simply because they cannot lay eggs is cruel and should be stopped,” Dr. Valliyate said in a statement.“We are grateful that the Kerala government is calling for a crackdown on the private poultry industry’s cruel and illegal methods of killing unwanted chicks. Members of the public who are concerned about these animals can help by choosing to eat vegan,” he said.

PETA India has pointed out that the cruel methods used to kill unwanted chicks violate Section 11(1)(l) of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960. It wants the government to ensure that the egg industry employs in ovo sex-determination technology as soon as it is available.

“This new technology, which has been developed abroad and will be commercially available soon, would allow eggs with male embryos to be destroyed at an early stage of development and spare live chicks a horrific death,” according to PETA India.

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