Gene tech spares male chicks from cull by preventing them from hatching

REHOVOT: Every year, egg farmers kill 7 billion day-old male chicks because they cannot grow up to lay eggs and are the wrong breed for meat. A laboratory in Israel has a solution: what if the male eggs don’t hatch?

All the chicks are female at Yuval Cinnamon’s laboratory in central Israel, where new technology offers an answer to what he calls “the most devastating animal welfare issue worldwide – the culling and sorting of day-old male chicks”.

Day-old male chicks are normally “either macerated or suffocated or electrified. In some countries they do not even bother to cull their males properly,” explained Cinnamon, principal investigator at Israel’s Volcani Institute, which works to attain food security and food safety.

Cinnamon said that his team has generated a sex-linked genetic trait that stops the development of male embryos shortly after eggs are laid.

“We take these eggs and activate the genetic trait using blue-light illumination which immediately causes the males to stop developing. The females don’t carry the trait and are entirely non-genetically modified, as are the table eggs they lay,” explained Cinnamon.

The unhatched male eggs can be used for other purposes such as animal feed.

Yaarit Wainberg, CEO of Poultry by Huminn, which is licensed to commercialize the research, wants to bring the technology to hatcheries worldwide.

“We are in advanced talks with layer genetics companies and can see our solution on the market within two years. It will solve a major problem for the industry.” Reuters.

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