Shredded Chicks

Worldwide, eggs are a favorite food item. Over 77 million metric tons of eggs were produced in 2019. There’s a heavy hidden toll behind that production.

The Japanese are the biggest egg eaters. The average Japanese consumes 320 eggs each year – most of them eaten raw. There are nearly as many chickens in Japan as people.

Half of the chicken population barely hatches before being literally shredded – or gassed or suffocated. Male chicks, which can’t grow up to lay eggs and aren’t bred to be efficient meat producers, are useless to industrial chicken growers. So newborn male chicks are painfully killed.

Germany became the first country to ban male chick culling in 2015. But a German court stymied the law, declaring the animal welfare act unenforceable because it was uneconomic.


Michael Brice-Saddler, “France says its poultry industry will stop shredding male chicks alive by 2022,” The Washington Post (29 January 2020).

“German court rules mass-killing of male chicks legal,” BBC News (13 June 2019).

Karin Brulliard, “New technique may prevent the gruesome deaths of billions of male chicks,” The Washington Post (27 October 2016).

“Countries that consume the most eggs,” WorldAtlas.

Egg consumption map (2017) courtesy of Our World in Data.