The routine culling of newly hatched male chicks is to be banned in Germany from January 2022, according to draft legislation published in Berlin on Wednesday.
From that time forward, producers wishing to cull male chicks must determine the sex by technical means before the chick hatches.
The legislation presented by Agriculture Minister Julia Kloeckner also provides for a second stage.
From January 2024 onwards, methods must be used that take effect before the seventh day of incubation.
The reasoning behind the change is that chick embryos experience pain from the seventh day.
Around 45 million day-old male chicks are culled every year, as the males do not lay eggs and do not grow as quickly.
The incubation period is 21 days, with the latest viable procedure determining sex in the egg over a period of between nine and 14 days, according to information from the ministry.
Research aimed at earlier determination is ongoing.
Kloeckner said that culling the day-old chicks was ethically unacceptable.
The new law made Germany a pioneer in the area, she said, describing it as a “milestone in animal welfare.”