Opting out of chick killing
In the past, male chicks were killed after hatching for the simple reason that hens lay eggs and cockerels do not. This practice changed with the entry into force of the German Law banning the killing of chicks in Germany. Applicable as of 1 January 2022, this Law states that hatched male chicks may no longer be killed. KAT has fully incorporated this ban into its guidelines. For consumers, this means that egg packs bearing the KAT logo will in future only contain eggs laid by hens from establishments where the male chicks, the "brothers" of the female chicks, have either been reared alongside the females or where the embryos were sexed prior to hatching.
Important: Although this Law only applies in Germany, the new KAT guidelines are also applicable to establishments that supply the KAT system from abroad.
Approved selection procedures+
In order to sort out male chicks from the hatching eggs, in-ovo sex identification methods are used. In this way, it is possible to determine at an early stage before the chicks hatch whether a female or male chick will hatch from the egg, so that the male hatching eggs can be separated out before hatching. All selection procedures that are currently legally approved are also recognised for the KAT system.
Further information on these legally approved selection procedures can be found on the websites of the technology provider:
Guaranteeing the avoidance of chick killing+
KAT is currently working on the establishment of an assurance of origin system covering the individual stages, from the hatchery to rearing to the laying farm. This will ensure that, with effect from 1 January 2022, all chicks hatched in KAT-certified farms will comply with the ban on chick killing.
The system operates on a batch basis. This means that each time a report is entered in the KAT database, a batch is generated in the system that uniquely identifies the establishment and flock. The batch reports are all linked, so that each life stage of the laying hen/cockerel is clearly traceable.
The traceability system in detail+
Traceability throughout the entire life cycle
Starting in the hatchery, every hatched bird must now be documented in the database for the KAT system. If the cockerels are not reared but sorted out before hatching using one of the legally approved selection procedures, the sexing method used must also be recorded in the database. The complete further life path of the hatched chicks – via the rearing farm to the laying henhouse (female birds) or slaughterhouse (male birds) – is subsequently documented.
The database reports are regularly checked for completeness and plausibility by KAT auditors on site at the establishments. The aim is to ensure complete, quantity-based and transparent traceability across all stages and throughout the entire rearing/selection process, right up to the laying henhouse.
Just as it has for laying farms, KAT has prepared guides stipulating minimum equirements for housing conditions for young hens as well as for their male counterparts, the cockerels. Compliance with these requirements is regularly monitored by independent accredited certification agencies.
The full transition takes time+
The German Law banning the killing of chicks in Germany entered into force on
1 January 2022.
Important: The Law applies exclusively to chicks that hatch in Germany. However, given that some chicks intended for subsequent laying hen husbandry in Germany are also imported from neighbouring European countries, KAT has adopted the German legislator's requirement, imposing it on all KAT system participants Europe-wide. This will ensure that male chicks are no longer killed for the production of KAT-certified eggs, regardless of location or country of origin.
A young hen is usually reared for approximately 17 weeks before being moved to the laying house. Cockerels are reared for between 10 and 14 weeks before being slaughtered. Consequently, taking account of the 17-week rearing period, the first laying hens with regard to which the killing of males was banned will be moved to the laying house from 1 May 2022 onwards. This date is therefore binding for all KAT system participants.
As of 1 May 2022, documentation will be required for every newly housed laying flock ensuring full traceability and proving that no chicks have been killed. Otherwise, the flock will lose its KAT status and retailing the eggs using the KAT logo will not be permitted. In contrast, laying hen flocks that comply with the statutory requirements and the KAT requirements described above will be recognisable to consumers in future via the stamp number query on the KAT website was-steht-auf-dem-ei.de by means of a reference to their compliance with the ban on chick killing.
A number of laying farms already made the transition to phasing out chick killing back in 2021, i.e. before the corresponding law came into force, doing so from an animal welfare perspective. At that time, however, the described "KAT assurance of origin system to guarantee implementation of the chick killing ban" had not yet been established. Yet because these eggs have been on sale in food retail outlets for some time now, the establishments concerned would already like to make their early commitment visible to consumers on the KAT website. To do this, they must prove to KAT that they phased out chick killing before the Law entered into force. This can be done by submitting consistent and plausible documentation in the form of delivery notes and invoices covering the entire process chain (from the hatchery to rearing/selection to the laying farm). If suitably complete and traceable documentation can be provided, the following information will be given in response to the stamp number query:
"Eggs with this stamp number are from laying hens from a rearing farm at which male chicks are also reared or where the hatching of male chicks is avoided through prior selection of the hatching eggs."
However, it should be noted that the birds from the 2021 transition period have not yet been able to pass through the "KAT assurance of origin system to guarantee implementation of the chick killing ban" and that the traceability data will therefore not yet have been entered in the KAT database.
Basically, the complete transition to the ban on killing chicks with regard to eggs offered under the KAT logo could take until the end of 2023 at the latest. A laying hen that was hatched before 31 December 2021 and whose male counterpart was still killed will continue to be classed as a KAT laying hen, still producing KAT eggs for approximately 70 to 90 weeks. By the end of this natural, biologically determined transitional phase, namely as of 1 January 2024, all KAT-certified eggs will come from hens whose male counterparts have not been killed.