French Agriculture minister Julien Denormandie has announced that France will outlaw the culling of male chicks in the poultry industry in 2022.
Millions of male chicks are killed after hatching every year - most often by being shredded or gassed with carbon dioxide - because they do not produce eggs and do not grow as large as females.
Farmers say no practical and affordable ways exist to tell a chick's sex in the egg at mass production facilities. An EU directive from 2009 authorises shredding as long as it causes immediate death for chicks less than 72 hours old.
But opponents denounce unnecessary cruelty and point to improving techniques for finding males before they hatch.
"As of January 1, 2022, all poultry hatcheries will have to have installed or ordered machines letting them learn a chick's sex in the egg," Denormandie told the daily Le Parisien.
The state will provide a financial aid package of 10 million euros to help farmers buy the necessary equipment, he added.
"2022 will be the year when shredding and gassing of male chicks ends in France," he said, saying the law would prevent the killing of 50 million male chicks every year.
The move comes after Germany said that it would ban the controversial practice next year.
Switzerland outlawed the shredding of live chicks last year, but still allows them to be gassed.