German court: Breeders can keep killing male chicks for now

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BERLIN (AP) A German federal court has ruled that hen breeders can continue to kill male chicks after they hatch, a practice that results in the death of some 45 million birds annually.

The Federal Administrative Court was ruling in a case involving a hatchery specialized in egg-laying hens that killed male chicks because they won't lay eggs and the breed is unsuited to raising for meat. The hatchery was banned from doing so in 2013, but another court then reversed the ban.

The federal court said Thursday a company's economic interests don't constitute a "sensible reason" under animal protection laws for killing the birds. But it said techniques to determine chicks' gender in the egg should soon be available and hatcheries shouldn't be asked to change their practice twice.

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