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FARMING

Shredding of live chicks to be banned in Switzerland from January 2020

The crushing of live male chicks is at the centrepiece of a number of new animal protection regulations to be passed in the new year.

Shredding of live chicks to be banned in Switzerland from January 2020
Photo: Sebastien SALOM-GOMIS / AFP

A number of other changes to mass agriculture will also come into effect in January, including tracking sheep and goats, as well as greater restrictions on pesticides and more assistance available to farmers in the instance of drought. 

In industrial farming across the globe, male chicks are typically shredded a day after birth as they do not lay eggs and are of little value in factory farms. 

Although the practice is relatively rare in Switzerland, it will be formally forbidden from January 2020. 

READ: Germany allows the shredding of live chicks to continue

The law does include some exceptions for smaller egg producers, however if male chicks are to be put to death, this must now be done with CO2 gas. 

The Swiss House of Representatives, when passing the law, called the practice “absurd”. 

Technology exists which can determine a chick’s sex just nine days into incubation. Although this is used in the United States, Germany and elsewhere, it is as yet not widespread in Switzerland. 

Pesticide restrictions, helicopters for thirsty cows

The Swiss government has made army helicopters available to transport water for cattle in the instance of drought. 

Switzerland’s central animal trafficking database will now also track sheep and goats, with the animals to be given tracking ear tags. 

Furthermore, there will be restrictions on certain pesticides, with the carcinogenic Chlorothalonil banned from January onwards. 

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WEATHER

Switzerland to get rain this week — at last

After weeks of very hot and dry weather, which have caused drought in many parts of the country, rain is forecast for Switzerland in coming days. But the reprieve from the heat will be temporary.

Switzerland to get rain this week — at last

While some areas of Switzerland have been hit by thunderstorms in the past days, providing some relief for agriculture and nature in general, the amount of rain has not been sufficient to counteract the effects of drought that has impacted much of the country.

The water levels of Lakes Constance, Walen, Lucerne and Lugano have reached historic lows, according to the Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN).

Continued drought has also impacted some rivers, including the Rhine, whose levels are “strongly to moderately” below average for the season, FOEN said.

The good news is that “the alarming situation on the drought front will finally ease somewhat in the coming days thanks to the return of the rains», according to Vincent Devantay, meteorologist at MeteoNews weather service.

The rains will begin on Wednesday afternoon, intensifying by the weekend, and “several areas of more or less active showers will finally follow one another until Saturday”, Devantay said.

By Saturday, these rainfall amounts are expected, according to MeteoNews:

  • Plateau, Lake Geneva basin, Valais Alps: 20 to 50 litres per square-metre
  • Jura Arc, Gruyère: 30 to 60 l/m2
  • Central Valais: 15 to 30 l/m2
  • Pre-Alps, Vaud Alps, Chablais: 40 to 80 l/m2
  • North of Switzerland: 10 to 30 l/m2
  • Central Switzerland, Ticino and Bernese Oberland: 50 to 100 l/m2

“These rains will bring some relief from the drought, but it would take several weeks of almost daily rain to see a real and lasting improvement”, Devantay said.

The rain will also bring in “much cooler temperatures”, but the summer weather will make a comeback from Sunday, “with increasingly warm temperatures and no clear deterioration is in sight for the future”.
 
 READ MORE: Body stress, drought and borders: How the heatwave affects Switzerland

 

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