GERMANY, Cologne. A new technology has been developed in Germany to prevent the culling of one-day-old male chicks.
The first eggs produced by hens that have been through the new process have appeared on the country's supermarket shelves.
“This is a great day for animal welfare in Germany. In this way we will set the pace in Europe," said the country's Minister of Food and Agriculture, Julia Klöckner. “My ministry has provided around five million Euros to support research for promising methods of gender identification in hatching eggs. With the market readiness of the process presented today, Germany is a pioneer. Now it is possible to identify the gender of the chicks in the hatching egg through a needle-tip tiny hole. Male hatching eggs no longer need to be incubated and killed immediately after hatching.”
The new process has been developed by Seleggt – a joint venture between retail company Rewe Group and a Dutch technology company, HatchTech.
Eggs produced as a result of the process were going on sale in 223 Rewe and Penny stores in Berlin in November. And Rewe Group is planning to sell them in all 5,500 Rewe and Penny stores in Germany this year.
“Concerned customers can now actively help to put an end to the practice of male chick culling through their shopping behaviour," said Jan Kunath, the deputy chief executive officer of Rewe Group. “I strongly believe that the extra price of a few cents per egg carton is well invested,” he said. “Our customers will be able to buy free-range respeggt-eggs gradually throughout Germany. “As a company, we are setting an example that sustainability and animal welfare are fundamental principles for us,” he said.
The technique developed in Germany involves the use of a laser to burn a hole of no more than 0.3 millimetres into the hatching egg shell. A small amount of allantois fluid is extracted through a non-invasive procedure, leaving the interior of the hatching egg untouched. The allantois fluid is placed on a patented marker outside the hatching egg. Through a change in colour, this marker will indicate whether the sex-specific hormone estrone sulphate can be detected in the hatching egg. Seleggt says the process is 98% accurate.
Seleggt says it intends to make the technology available to the industry as a cost-neutral service. It says the patented process will be available to the first hatcheries from 2020. “Despite all the euphoria, we still have a long way to go,” said Dr. Ludger Breloh, managing director of Seleggt.
Seleggt says that the system will provide complete traceability. Every hatchery equipped with the process, rearing farm, laying farm or egg packing centre will enter the relevant information via app. The data is stored, may be viewed by all members of the supply chain and cannot be altered.