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Culling male chicks is coming to an end

Culling male chicks is coming to an end

Culling day old male chicks from layer breeds is much under debate in the western world. But a reliable solution is there. “In ovo sexing” has become reality and is as accurate as current manual sexing methods. The Seleggt technology is running in a robot carousel, developed by HatchTech Incubation Technology. Under the “respeggt” label, eggs which have been laid by layers which originate from this system, are available in European supermarkets. - By Ad Bal

The culling of male chicks from layer breeds directly after hatch, has been common practice for decades (today 300 million in the EU alone). Not a pleasant practice though, but an alternative wasn’t there. After all, these birds have been bred for egg production, rather than growing for meat. Consequently, they have limited value, apart from feeding them to predators in zoo gardens.  Despite some niche alternatives, like the roosterburger from Lidl, there is simply no commercially acceptable use of these chicks. Moreover, in ovo vaccination of male chicks is waste of hatching capacity, vaccine and labour. Yet, through extensive research, the solution is there and will soon be available on a commercial scale. Various methods have been and are still being researched. The method which is currently available, was developed by German based company Seleggt, in collaboration with the University of Leipzig and REWE retail group from Germany. This Seleggt technique is accurate and operational and has been installed in a carousel robot, developed by HatchTech. Currently, this machine is running in a Seleggt layer hatchery in The Netherlands where it is tested under practical, daily circumstances. This is just in time, as new legislation on this matter has been adopted in Germany and France. As of the first of January 2022, the culling of male chicks will be prohibited in both countries. And it is likely that other EU countries will follow soon thereafter. Layer hatcheries will therefore have less than two years to find a solution.

3000 eggs per hour 
With the Seleggt method, the eggs are placed in the carousel at day 9. At that moment, the chick embryo does not experience pain yet. A laser beam then pierces a very small hole through the eggshell (0,3 mm). Thus, a small droplet of “allantoic fluid” (urine) can be collected. Onwards, a droplet of marker is added to the fluid. After 30 minutes, with an accuracy of 98 percent, a colour signal makes clear whether there’s a male or female embryo inside the egg. One carousel is running at a capacity of about 3000 eggs per hour. Table eggs which have been...

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