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Male chicks given lease of life in new farm project
Photo: ZAG

Male chicks given lease of life in new farm project

The Local · 29 Jan 2016, 09:40

Published: 29 Jan 2016 09:40 GMT+01:00

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The images of the chicks was filmed in San Miguel del Monte in Argentina and sparked international outrage, but also highlighted the fact that male chicks are simply not economically viable to keep.

However, now a new project has been announced in which male chicks will no longer be killed a few days after birth, but instead will be raised and sold as a "high quality poultry product" to Austrian consumers. The project also has the backing of all of the country's major supermarket chains who are agreeing to stock the birds.

And if the project is a success, there are hopes that it could also spread to other countries.

In a press release from the Austrian Poultry Association (ZAG), they reported that it was still early days and it would depend on the consumers whether the project worked out.

All the chickens are being kept in special organic farming conditions and will have plenty of opportunity to run around outside, and will be given only organic food.

ZAG spokesman Michael Wurzer said: "There are actually two types of poultry, one which is bred for meat and the other which is bred for laying eggs. The poultry that you buy in the supermarket will be of the type which is bred for meat, and can be male or female, whereas the egg-laying poultry don't come to the supermarket shelves.

"The females are kept longer but then are too old to be sold in supermarkets, and usually go to factories for example where they are made into soup.

"However, the male chicks that hatch from the egg laying variety of poultry have until now been killed after a few days, which in Austria is done with CO2. However from now on, we will be raising them as well."

He said that as a result the cockerels would also have a chance to live for longer, and under the Austrian system would be kept in free-range enclosures before they were large enough to be killed.

And although the young cockerels cannot be sold in supermarkets as they cannot compete with the meat-producing type of poultry, nevertheless, the meat is reportedly of a remarkably good quality, and is being used to make sausages and other meat products.

Austria's organic farmers are hoping that the product will find favour with consumers, and it is certainly better than ending up as they did in the recent controversial video - shot secretly by one farm worker. One obviously sickened farm hand is heard saying: "Poor little things, can you believe they are making us do this?"

But another worker, his mouth and nose covered with a scarf, replies: "Yeah well, it’s what pays our wages right?"

Story courtesy of Central European News.

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