CRISPR-based gene editing technology could help breeders identify male layer chicks before hatch.
“Our technology could solve the problem of male chick culling in the poultry industry before incubation,” Yehuda Elram, co-founder and CEO, eggXYt, said. “Male offspring will carry a detectable fluorescent marker and be sorted out before incubation.
Approximately 6-7 billion male layer chicks are culled each year, a major animal welfare and economic concern for the layer industry. Animal welfare organizations have pressured the egg industry to find an alternative approach.
Egg producers around the world have pledged to adopt in ovo sex sorting technology as soon as it is available. In January 2020, the agriculture ministers of France and Germany jointly announced that the culling of male day-old chicks would be banned by the end of 2021.
Gatekeeping tech identifies male chicks
The gene editing technology, presented at the 2018 Poultry Tech Summit, places a biomarker on the male chromosome of an embryo, resulting in a glowing egg when exposed to a certain light. The technology acts as a gatekeeper, allowing breeders to identify males before they are hatched in order to divert them to feed production.
Because the biomarker only appears with the male embryos, the DNA of the female eggs is unchanged.
“Since presenting at the 2018 Poultry Tech Summit, we have moved closer with the development of our solution and bringing our technology to commercialization,” Elram added.
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