Science

Laser tech may mean fewer unwanted male chicks

Laser tech may mean fewer unwa...
Every year, millions of male chicks are destroyed at hatcheries worldwide
Every year, millions of male chicks are destroyed at hatcheries worldwide
View 1 Image
Every year, millions of male chicks are destroyed at hatcheries worldwide
1/1
Every year, millions of male chicks are destroyed at hatcheries worldwide

When it comes to the type of chickens that are raised for their eggs as opposed to their meat, the hens are obviously more valued than the non-laying males. As a result, when the chicks are being sorted at hatcheries, most of the cockerels (male chicks) are culled either through asphyxiation or by being thrown into a grinder. Needless to say, this practise is troubling to many people. It may soon no longer be necessary, however, thanks to an inexpensive new technique that determines the gender of developing embryos while they're still in the egg.

The technology was developed by a team led by Roberta Galli of TU Dresden (Germany) and Gerald Steiner of TU Dresden and Vilnius University (Lithuania).

It involves shining a near-infrared laser through the shell of an egg, four days after it's been laid. This causes the embryonic blood within to fluoresce. By analyzing the manner in which it fluoresces, it's possible to determine whether the embryo will become a hen or a cockerel.

When tested on 380 eggs, the new technique proved to be 93 percent accurate.

"In ovo sexing based on spectral analysis is non-invasive, does not require extraction of egg material and does not use consumables," says Galli. "Moreover, the method is applicable during the fourth day of incubation, before onset of embryo sensitivity at day seven, and is therefore in agreement with animal welfare."

A paper on the research was recently published in the journal Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry.

Source: Springer

4 comments
MQ
So now you can just toss the 10 day egg in the grinder (or omelette) instead of the 21 day "hatchling", great tech, saves 11 days, end result = same.
zr2s10
Yeah, why don't you just let them hatch and send the boys to a farm, let them grow, then use them for meat? Seems kind of wasteful.
Marco Gonzalez
@MD " the method is applicable during the fourth day of incubation, before onset of embryo sensitivity at day seven" End result is not the same.
Pablo
No reason at all to grind or smother male chicks, simply to promote efficiency. (read "greed")... With so many people going hungry in this and many other countries, why can't this waste be stopped? In the end, all the chickens are doomed, we're going to eat them or feed them to other animals. Just let's stop senselessly throwing them away. We have an obligation to treat domestic animals with respect. Tossing them in the trash as a simple matter of convenience doesn't qualify.