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Killing of day-old chicks – situation analysis in Switzerland 2004


Every year about 2.3 million laying hen chicks are produced in Switzerland. This means also 2.3 million male chicks from laying hen lines have to be killed, as they are neither appropriate for fattening nor for breeding.

From an ethical point of view this is a baseless discreation of life.
The implementation of the first organic brooder gave reason to analyse the situation in Switzerland.


A survey with the Swiss brooders, a literature research and an interrogation of experts were carried out.

Results, conclusion, state of the art

Most of the chicks are killed by CO2. The opinions vary on the ideal composition and concentration of gas mixtures. Newborns are especially resistance to anoxia and incomplete stunning can be observed. The problems aggravate if chicks are stratified on top of each other and if there is residual air or rather oxygen in the down feathering. Maceration would be an alternative as it is rapid and unfailing. But employees dislike it validly as anaesthetically and the dead animals can’t be used no more to feed carnivores.

Financing/ Donor

Other Organizations

(Research) Program
  • Federal Office for Agriculture (FOAG) – Research, training and innovation
Research area
FiBL project number NN
Date modified 12.11.2019
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