In a move Vox calls "the best news for America's animals in decades," United Egg Producers announced Thursday that it will stop culling newborn boy chicks. The Humane League negotiated the move with the UEP, the US's biggest representative of egg producers, and it will be carried out by 2020. Most people probably aren't aware of the practice of culling: Nearly all male chicks born at egg-laying hen hatcheries are killed—typically by grinding or gassing—soon after birth because they can't be raised for meat. Chickens to be used that way are bred differently in order to grow quickly and achieve maximum size and amount of meat.
Now, UEP will start using "in-ovo egg sexing" to figure out which eggs are male and terminate them. The fertilized eggs can still be used, though likely not for human food—other uses include pet food or vaccines. The move will save hundreds of millions of male chicks from culling per year in the US, and, as the Humane League points out, it "will also spare tens of thousands of hens from suffering a lifetime on factory farms" because the male eggs will reduce demand on egg-laying hens. Germany has also pledged to end chick culling by 2017, but the US is among the first nations to make such a pledge, the Washington Post reports. The Humane League previously convinced more than 150 companies to eliminate cages for chickens from their supply chains. (McDonald's is cleaning up the McNugget.)