Hormone-based sexing could sex male chicks before they are hatched, helping to reduce or even eliminate male chick culling at layer farms.
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.
“In Europe, we find that there is a lot of political debate about animal welfare in the layer industry,” explained Carmen Uphoff, Head of Sales & Communication, respeggt GmbH.
The technique samples test fluid from the allantois, an embryological membrane in the egg, on the ninth day of incubation.
“The machine pokes a little hole into the egg with a laser and then sucks fluid out of the egg,” Uphoff said.
The process is non-invasive, so the interior of the egg remains safe and sound.
After sampling, the machine puts the eggs back on a tray and analyzes the fluid for the presence of an endocrinological marker signifying the presence of female hormone
The results – revealing the sex – show up by color, “like a pregnancy test,” said Uphoff.
The technology was recently awarded a EuroTier Innovation Silver Award.
"Free of chick culling"
The hormone-based sexing technique is already available to hatcheries free of charge.
“We get the hatching eggs from the hatchery, perform the identification and send the female eggs back to the hatchery,” Uphoff said.
Once these chicks grow up, the eggs are sold with the respeggt-label “free of chick culling.”
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