Dual-purpose chickens – an alternative to culling day-old male chicks

Photo: Jason Leung
Photo: Jason Leung

European researchers have found that dual-purpose male chickens culled in a laying hen abattoir can be considered as an alternative to conventionally reared and slaughtered broilers.

With Germany banning the practice of culling male day-old chicks and other EU countries following suit, there is growing pressure to find alternatives to conventional chicken meat and egg production.

Combining laying with growth performance

Scientists led by Nina Langkabel of the Institute of Food Safety and Food Hygiene at the University of Berlin, Germany, wanted to see if the production of dual-purpose chicken lines was one possible solution – as such lines combine moderate laying with growth performance. The study considered that the production of such products would take longer because of the feeding regime required.

The dual-purpose chicken line, Lohmann Dual (males), was compared to males from the laying line Lohmann Brown Plus, conventional laying hens (all slaughtered and processed in the same conventional laying hen abattoir) and conventional broilers (slaughtered in a conventional broiler abattoir).

Neck skin samples were taken before chilling at the end of each slaughter line to determine the microbial status of the carcasses. Additionally, fresh and cooked meat sensory analysis was performed on meat from broilers and male and female Lohmann Dual and Lohmann Brown Plus chickens at the German Agricultural Society at Kassel. The focus was on the performance of male Lohmann Dual compared to the other lines.


There was no difference in the Enterobacteriaceae count of the dual-purpose chicken line compared to conventional broilers, whereas laying hens had a significantly higher microbial load before chilling, as based on neck skin examination (p<0.001).

Sensory test results showed that the meat from dual-purpose chickens was the best, as no defects were found among the 5 chicken meat types examined.

In conclusion, the scientists said that based on their microbial status and sensory analysis of fresh and cooked meat, Lohmann Dual males slaughtered in a laying hen abattoir can be considered as an alternative to conventionally kept broilers.

The microbiological and sensory status of dual-purpose chickens (Lohmann Dual), male Lohmann Brown Plus chickens, and conventional laying hens slaughtered in a laying hen abattoir compared to conventional broilers slaughtered in a broiler abattoirstudy was published in the Plos One journal.

Tony Mcdougal Freelance Journalist
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