Genetics

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Launched: Method to identify gender in hatching eggs

Millions of day old male chicks will no longer need to be gassed following the launch of a market-ready method for identifying the gender in hatching eggs.

Hailing the launch of the initiative as a “great day for animal welfare in Germany”, German Agriculture Minister Julia Klockner said the country had set the pace for the rest of Europe to follow.

Photo:  SELEGGT
Photo: SELEGGT

“Now it is possible to identify the gender of the chicks in the hatching egg through a needle-tip tiny hole, male hatching eggs no longer need to be incubated and killed immediately after hatching,” she said.

The initiative comes from SELEGGT, a joint venture between HatchTech, German supermarket chain REWE and the University of Leipzig, which sees the eggs from the laying hens checked on the genus during the incubation phase.

The process

In the process, a laser is used to burn a hole of no more than 0.3 millimetres into the hatching eggshell. Afterwards, a small amount of fluid is extracted through a non-invasive procedure. The interior of the egg is left untouched and remains safe.

Through a change in colour, a marker will indicate whether the sex-specific hormone estrone sulphate can be detected in the hatching egg. If detected, a female chick is developing in the hatching egg. Consequently, only female chicks hatch on the 21st day of incubation. No estrone sulphate indicates a male hatching egg, which is separated and processed into high-quality animal feed.

SELEGGT is now developing a business model to make the technology available to the industry as a cost-neutral service. The patented process will be available to the first hatcheries in 2020.

Jan Kunath, REWE Group deputy chief executive, said customers would also benefit: “Throughout next year, our customers will be able to buy the so-called free-range respeggt-eggs gradually throughout Germany.”

7 comments

  • Asghar Sedaghat

    In which day of incubation could be detected by this method?

  • e Kessler

    Yeah, so just kill them while they're still in the egg. I hope you're not suggesting that this is humane.

  • Vytautas Dzidolikas

    Nobody knows how exact is this method . And how much will cost the equipment for it knows nobody too. This is only start of the new technology.

  • Jan Wijnen

    Day 9 of incubation.

    Studies indicate that the embyro is unable to experience pain already at this 'age'. However, there are only limited studies on this topic.

    The method is very exact, results are comparable to cloaca (or feather) sexing.

  • Comment deleted by a moderator

  • Santiago Garcia

    At what stage of Incubation (hours post setting), is the test conducted? Bear in mind that embryonic development starts immediately after the ovum is fertilized and continues while the eggs are still uncollected and stored in temperatures which arrest their development. Thus, eggs set in the incubators will be at various ages. Then what about the infertiles at the time tests are conducted? What color will result to identify them?

  • Great! It is a boon to the poultry industry.

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