France will ban from next year the killing of male chicks by crushing or gassing, a practice denounced as barbaric by animal welfare groups, and will push for a similar measure at European level, the agriculture minister said on Sunday.
Each year, 50 million male chicks are culled in this way, Julien Denormandie said in an interview posted on the website of daily Le Parisien. Only females, future egg-laying hens, are kept alive.
"France is the first country in the world, along with Germany, to end the crushing and gassing of male chicks," Denormandie added.
The two countries will try to convince their European Union partners to outlaw the practice at a council of EU agriculture ministers on Monday, he said.
From 2022, breeders in France will instead need to equip themselves with machines to detect the sex of chicks before they hatch.
"The dynamic is well underway and, given the orders already placed, the machines will be installed for two-thirds of production in France by the end of the first quarter of 2022," Denormandie added.
The measure is expected to lead to an extra cost of 1 euro cent per box of six eggs, he said.
To help breeders buy the equipment, France will grant subsidies totalling 10 million euros ($11.8 million).
The castration of live piglets will also be prohibited from the start of 2022, Denormandie said.