Glowing biomarker could simplify in ovo chick sexing

CRISPR-based gene editing technology could help breeders identify male layer chicks before hatch.

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Will in ovo sex sorting replace the practice of euthanizing newly hatched layer cockerels? (Lukas Blazek | Dreamstime.com)
Will in ovo sex sorting replace the practice of euthanizing newly hatched layer cockerels? (Lukas Blazek | Dreamstime.com)

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.

Attend the 2023 Poultry Tech Summit

Join an exclusive international gathering of industry-changing innovators, researchers, entrepreneurs, technology experts, investors and leading poultry producers at the 2023 edition of Poultry Tech Summit on November 6-8 at the Hilton Atlanta Airport in Atlanta, Georgia

Attendees can expect the same groundbreaking innovation and insightful presentations that made the previous events well-attended with deep dialogue on new prospective solutions and next-generation technologies. Poultry Tech Summit focuses on the transition of innovative technologies into commercial applications to advance the poultry industry.

Registration for this event will open in the spring of 2023.

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