Crushing and gassing male chicks will be considered illegal in France from 2020 onwards, the country’s agriculture minister announced on July 19. 

“France is the first country in the world, along with Germany, to end the crushing and gassing of male chicks,” said France Agriculture Minister Julien Denormandie in an interview posted on the website of daily Le Parisien, according to Reuters

Denormandie said that starting in Jan. 2022, all chicken hatcheries would be obliged to have machinery that can determine the sex of a chick at the egg stage installed or ordered as part of the move away from the culling practice. 

To push for an easier transition, the French government will invest ten million euros ($11.8 million), subsidizing hatcheries that use the technique. 

“The dynamic is well underway and, given the orders already placed, the machines will be installed for two-thirds of production in France by the end of the first quarter of 2022,” Denormandie said. She added that the policy would cost an extra one euro cent per box of six eggs (2.3 cents per dozen).

Castration of live piglets will become illegal in 2022 as well.

Each year, up to 50 million early hatched male chicks in the egg-laying industries would be eliminated after being sorted out from the females, future egg-laying hens. The most common method of getting rid of them was to crush or grind the chicks alive. 

Animal rights organizations have criticized the culling of male chicks for their barbaric nature. 

Germany was the first nation to announce a stop in such practices for poultry hatcheries in January this year, and they seek to enact the law by the beginning of 2022. However, Agriculture Minister Julia Klöckner said she did not see the practice as “ethically acceptable” when introducing the measure.

Germany would also require the involvement of technology to assist in detecting the gender of the chicks before they hatch. 

Now that France has joined the movement, Denormandie noted that both countries are hoping to persuade other European Union partners to outlaw the practice in a meeting of EU agriculture ministers on July 26.