Male chicks may no longer be killed because of their sex in laying hen breeding. This is a problem for birds of prey owners and keepers: They need the chicks for food and now have to buy their meat abroad at high prices.
Stettfeld/Wunsiedel (dpa/lby) - Keepers and carers of birds of prey are complaining about ever higher feed prices. Above all, chicken chicks are fed to the carnivorous birds, says Juliana Neumayer from the bird of prey care station in Stettfeld, Lower Franconia (Hassberge district): "The chicks have everything the birds of prey need in terms of nutrients." The bird of prey care station takes in injured birds and nurses them until they are independent again. Since the killing of male chicks is now forbidden in Germany, you have to order their meat from abroad - at significantly higher prices.
This is also confirmed by Eckard Mickisch, operator of the bird of prey park with falconry Katharinenberg in Wunsiedel in Upper Franconia: "We used to pay ten to twelve euros for ten kilograms of chick meat, now it's 25 to 27 euros." In his experience, live chicks are often transported from Germany to the Netherlands, killed there and then brought back to Germany as expensive feed: "So the high prices are a home-grown German problem."
Since the beginning of 2022, the mass killing of economically unprofitable male chicks in laying hen breeding has been prohibited in Germany. This practice was often referred to as "chick shredding," although the animals were usually killed with gas. Because of their short life span they were also called "day-old chicks". After being killed, they were often used as fodder for other animals.
Despite the increasingly expensive feeding, the bird of prey park is currently doing well, says Mickisch: "Because of the now subtropical climate, we have more and more young animals. Birds of prey species are coming to us that we never had before, for example the red and black kite." A total of 60 specimens of around 20 different species of birds of prey lived in the park and falconry, including buzzards, eagles, vultures, griffon vultures and snowy owls.
At the bird of prey care station in Stettfeld, the situation is currently quite calm, says Neumayer: "We currently only have one foster child - an owl that got caught in a power fence." Otherwise, a kestrel and a buzzard lived at the station as "permanent guests," says the animal rights activist.
In 2022 there were fewer mice that served as prey for certain species of raptor, says Neumayer. That is why there are apparently fewer young animals. As a result, the problem of the increased chick prices for the voluntary bird care station is still manageable.