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Ban on chick culling in France by the end of 2021

The government said new methods were emerging that would make it possible to test the sex of embryos inside the egg

France is to outlaw the practice of culling unwanted male chicks and the castration of piglets without anaesthetic by the end of 2021, as part of animal welfare reforms.

French Agriculture Minister Didier Guillaume confirmed the previously announced bans would come into force at a press conference in Paris. "From the end of 2021, nothing will be like it was before," he said.

It means France will be one of the first countries to outlaw culling male chicks, which are viewed as commercially useless, because they grow more slowly than hens so are deemed unsuitable for meat production.

France and Germany last year said they would work together to put an end to mass chick culling. About seven billion animals - not wanted for meat or eggs - are killed around the world each year, usually in shredding machines or by gas.

The government said new methods were emerging that would make it possible to test the sex of embryos inside the egg.

Animal rights activists welcomed the changes in France but said they did not go far enough.

They are "a step in the right direction, but still inadequate", Anissa Putois of the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) told AFP.

French animal protection group L214 said the measures were "not ambitious" and "do not address the basic problems".

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