Somewhere in Animal Heaven, the ghosts of pigs and roosters exchange rueful shrugs
An undercover video shot by an animal rights group at an Iowa egg hatchery shows workers discarding unwanted chicks by sending them alive into a grinder, and other chicks falling through a sorting machine to die on the factory floor. [. . .]
[The factory owner] noted that “instantaneous euthanasia”—a reference to killing of male chicks by the grinder—is a standard practice supported by the animal veterinary and scientific community. [. . .]
According to [the animal rights group], male chicks are of no use to the industry because they can’t lay eggs and don’t grow large or quickly enough to be raised profitably for meat. That results in the killing of 200 million male chicks a year.
The United Egg Producers, a trade group for U.S. egg farmers, confirmed that figure and the practice behind it.
“There is, unfortunately, no way to breed eggs that only produce female hens,” said the group’s spokesman, Mitch Head. “If someone has a need for 200 million male chicks, we’re happy to provide them to anyone who wants them. But we can find no market, no need.”
Traditionally, influenza vaccines are produced in fertilized chicken eggs. Eleven days after fertilization, the influenza virus is injected into the eggs and accumulates in the fluid surrounding the embryo. The embryo becomes infected so that the virus can multiply. After several days of incubation, machines open the eggs and harvest the virus. The virus is then carefully purified, chemically inactivated and used to produce the vaccine. Typically, between one and two eggs are needed to produce one dose of vaccine. The entire production process takes at least six months.
Unfortunately, yields in the initial H1N1 production seed strain provided by the World Health Organization were far below normal.