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Unknown attackers rip heads off 40 chickens

A farmer in central Germany woke up on Sunday morning to the horrifying sight of 40 of his chickens with their heads ripped off by brute force.

Unknown attackers rip heads off 40 chickens
File photo: DPA

The attackers must have killed the helpless animals “with their bare hands,” farmer Michael Lüft from Seligenstadt, southeast of Frankfurt, said.

“You would need a certain amount of strength to do that.”

Whoever was behind the killings broke into the hen stalls by force.

Some of the birds had their heads completely torn off, while others had the skin and sinews torn from their bodies and pulled over their heads.

Police said that the violence of the act meant that witnesses must have seen or heard something.

“The animals must have been correspondingly terrified and caused noise,” a police spokesman in Offenbach said.

Officers believe that several perpetrators were behind the violence. The culprits also threw eggs against the walls and tipped over a number of barrels containing feed and water for the chickens.

Investigators are now calling for members of the public to come forward if they saw or heard anything.

FARMING

Germany to be ‘first country’ to end shredding of male chicks

Germany is set to be the first country to ban mass shredding of male chicks in the poultry industry, the government said Wednesday after approving a draft law on the controversial practice.

Germany to be 'first country' to end shredding of male chicks
Photo: DPA

The measure passed by the cabinet envisages a ban on mass chick killing from 2022 in “a significant step forward for animal welfare,” Agriculture Minister Julia Klöckner said in a statement.

In many poultry businesses, male chicks are separated from females soon after hatching and shredded or gassed as they do not produce eggs and generate less meat.

Tens of millions of males are culled in Germany every year.

Animal welfare activists have long campaigned to end the practice but farmers have complained there is no practical, affordable and cruelty-free alternative.

But methods to determine the sex of chicks before they hatch are available to farmers, according to the government.

'First in the world'

One technique, developed by a German firm, involves using a laser to make a tiny hole to extract liquid from a fertilised egg, before testing it for the presence of a female hormone.

“We have invested millions of euros in alternatives, bringing animal welfare and economic efficiency together on German soil,” Klöckner said.

READ ALSO: Germany and France push EU to end shredding of male chicks

Saying Germany would be “the first in the world” to proceed in this way, Klöckner stated it wants to “set the pace and be a role model for other countries”.

From 2024, the draft law will also require poultry farmers to use methods that work at an earlier stage in the incubation process, preventing pain for the unhatched embryos.

The European advocacy group Foodwatch criticised the move, saying it did not go far enough in an industry that also causes suffering for animals in other ways.

“If only the cruel practice of killing chicks in Germany is ended, this will change absolutely nothing about the unbearable suffering of laying hens,” said Martin Rücker, executive director of Foodwatch.

'Partial solution'

The German Poultry Association said the plans were only a “partial solution to the problem”, claiming they would also lead to “immense competitive disadvantages” for German poultry farmers.

The association said it welcomed the phasing out of chick culling but saw “serious shortcomings” in the draft law, including that it would not apply anywhere else in Europe.

The legislation must next be approved by the Bundestag, the lower house of parliament.

Germany and France committed in January 2020 to work together to end the practice of chick shredding by the end of 2021.

French Agriculture Minister Didier Guillaume has also committed to outlawing the practice in France from the end of 2021.

Switzerland banned the shredding of live chicks last year, but still allows them to be gassed.

In June 2019, a German court ruled that the slaughter could continue until a method was found to determine the sex of an embryo in the egg.

An EU directive from 2009 authorises shredding as long as it causes “immediate” death for chicks less than 72 hours old.

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