Day-old chicks in a cage© KeystoneUSA-ZUMA/Rex Shutterstock

Dozens of French MPs have written to the country’s agricultural minister, Stéphane Le Foll, calling for legislation geared at ending the practice of macerating day-old chicks.

It follows a video, posted by animal rights group L’Association Ethique et Animaux L214, which purports to show mistreatment of chicks in a Brittany hatchery, as well as the grinding of day-old chicks.

The practice has been discontinued in the UK, with male chicks instead gassed in argon – a more humane dispatch method.

See also: Germany agrees to voluntary beak-trim ban

The graphic video, which the group says was filmed by an employee-turned-whistleblower, shows workers suffocating chicks in bin bags and throwing them across rooms. In one distressing scene, live chicks appear to be swept up off the floor and placed in the bin.

Maceration of chicks continues in some Continental hatcheries, and L214 has called for France to replicate Germany in legislating to encourage research into alternative measures.

The German farming minister has said he wants to see an end to the practice by 2017.             

WARNING: GRAPHIC VIDEO

It has been backed by 36 MPs from across the French political spectrum encouraging similar action.

Research into sexing chicks in the egg, before they hatch, is showing promise, but as yet is not a commercially viable solution.

L214 said about 50 million male chicks were macerated each year, and treated as a “waste product” by the poultry industry.

In the UK

British hatcheries also euthanise male chicks at one day old as they will not produce eggs or grow as efficiently as chickens reared for meat.

While it is a legal requirement to have a maceration device on-site, all chicks are gassed using argon.

All of the eggs hatched for the laying hen industry are certified by British Lion.

They are also accredited by the Humane Slaughter Association standard, as well as Freedom Food – the RSPCA’s farm animal welfare scheme.