Stacy Robertson
Stacy Robertson
February 17, 2020 ·  4 min read

Switzerland Just Banned the Egg Industry From Grinding Live Chicks

No animal deserves to die by shredding, least of all these harmless, cute chicks. It is gruesome and inhumane. If animals should be killed for meat, then the process should be painless and smooth for these creatures. Shredding is one of the terrible ways to kill an animal and it’s horrifying how people can actually perform this act.

Thankfully, countries like Switzerland are revisiting this method and sourcing for alternatives. By formally banning the shredding of live male chicks, Switzerland has taken a huge step in the right direction. [1]

Culling through maceration is downright brutal. When the egg hatches, female chicks, if healthy and strong, are moved to another site where they are groomed to a suitable size before being transferred to a laying facility.

Male chicks, on the other hand, are separated from female chicks. This is because they cannot lay eggs, or they are unsuitable for meat production. Unhealthy and sick female chicks are not left out. Together, they are put through a high-speed grinder, which kills them instantly. 

While this method is not common among poultry farmers in Switzerland, lawmakers have insisted on a formal ban.

This tendency to rear species only for the production of eggs or for meat turns animals into mere objects. It has led to absurd practices such as the shredding of living male chicks,” the House of Representatives committee said. [2]

The ban against culling through maceration went out into effect on the 1st of January, 2020. Presently, male chicks will no longer be killed using a high-speed grinder. However, killing through carbon dioxide is still legal.

Is the usage of carbon dioxide an improvement?

Currently, killing male chicks by gassing is still ongoing and legal in Switzerland. This calls to question the reason behind the ban of shredding. If shredding is an inhumane option, how is gassing any better?  

Unlike gassing, quick maceration, if carried out competently and effectively, is more humane and less painful. The animals are killed within a second.

Gassing, on the other hand, creates a burning sensation and leaves the chicks gasping for breath. In fact, it may take as long as two minutes for the chick to die, making it more painful and less quick. [3]

Shredding is gruesome, but so is gassing. Both methods should be unacceptable.

Sex determination before incubation: the way forward

Since gassing through carbon dioxide may be worse than maceration, what then is the way forward? 

Sex determination before incubation may be the perfect solution to this problem. This method determines the gender of an egg by testing it for the hormone estrone sulfate, which is present in female chickens alone. To do this, a laser is used to create a hole in the eggshell, after which a small amount of liquid is extracted and then tested. Through this method, male chicks wouldn’t have to go through the suffering and pain attached to maceration, gassing, and electrocution.

Currently, this technology is being used by a German company, SELEGGT. The company is working tirelessly to make the technique available for free on a commercial scale. While this method is currently unavailable in Switzerland, the country is exploring it as a possible alternative to culling through maceration and gassing.

Switzerland is also exploring the possibility of farmers raising the male chicken for meat. 

Switzerland and Animal Welfare

The Swiss public is set to vote on a proposed constitutional amendment that will guarantee better welfare conditions for factory-farmed animals. So far, 100,000 signatures needed to effect this ban has been collected. 

Co-director of Sentience Politics, Silvano Lieger, has said that the ease with which the signatures were gathered showed that the people truly care about animals. He insists that factory farming involves cruelty and is, therefore, unacceptable.

The fact that we were able to submit this initiative so quickly shows how much people in Switzerland care about animals. The majority of them are unaware of the significant amount of individuals that are still being raised in unbearable conditions. Factory farming is unacceptable—and we should use the power of direct democracy to also make it illegal,” says Lieger. [4]

Although a date for the vote will be set after discussions in parliament, the government says that banning factory-farming is too radical.

The Federal Council recommends that the popular initiative “No factory farming in Switzerland (factory farming initiative)” be rejected,” says the statement. “The inclusion of private organic standards in the constitution and the extension to imports go too far.”


  1. Swiss government bans ‘shredding’ of male chicks.” ABC. The Associated Press. October 23, 2019.
  2. Switzerland bans shredding of male chicks.” SWI. Marie Vuilleumier. September 20, 2019.
  3. Switzerland Bans Shredding Of Male Chicks: But Is This A Victory?Plant Based News. Maria Chiorando. September 25, 2019.
  4. SWITZERLAND MAY SOON BAN ALL FACTORY FARMS.Live Kindly. Kat Smith. February 3, 2020.