SOLUTION APPROACHES

Around the world, various analyses are being conducted in both universities and private research institutes to look at ways of avoiding chick culling by using gender identification in the hatching egg.

One can essentially distinguish between three different methods: layer brother fattening, the dual-use breed and gender identification in the hatching egg. Layer brother fattening and the dual-use breed are already being used to a certain extent, i.e. eggs from these breeding types can already be bought in German supermarkets. We provide the first practical solution for gender identification in hatching eggs.

Essentially, an economical dual-use breed with a good egg-laying and fattening capacity would be an optimum process. This, however, has not been possible yet. The best alternative at the moment would be to identify the gender in the hatching egg – long before it hatches. As a consequence, the male hatching eggs are removed early on and do not hatch. After 21 days of incubation, only the female chicks hatch from the hatching eggs.

Since the ratio of male to female hatching eggs is approx. 50:50, the male hatching eggs are sorted out early in the incubator. Energy costs are saved and the work processes in the hatcheries are simplified because after the chicks have hatched, the male chicks no longer need to be removed and killed. The removed male hatching eggs could then be turned into a high-quality feed, which additionally generates added value.

85 Days

Cock of egg-laying breed

60 Days

Dual-use cock
 

35 Days

Classic broiler
 

The illustration shows the difference between the breeds. A brother layer of the classic egg-laying breed must be fattened for around 85 days to reach a live weight of approximately 1.5 kg.

A dual-use cock is fattened for around 60 days. It reaches a weight of around 1.8 kg. The feed conversion ratio is more efficient in dual-use cocks than in cocks of the laying breed.

The last image shows a classic chicken, i.e. a broiler. These are fattened for around 35 days and reach a weight of around 2 kg.

It shows that chickens of the egg-laying breed produce meat very inefficiently. The fattening costs here cannot be covered by meat sales, so this means that these additional costs are borne by the hens’ eggs. The customer pays around 2.5 to 3 cents more for an egg because the brother was fattened.

With dual-use breeds, the laying capacity of the chicken is lower than with similar laying breeds. In addition, the dual-use cock fattening capacity is less efficient than that of classic broilers. Therefore, it is very difficult to sell both eggs and meat of the dual-use breeds economically.

Gender identification in the hatching egg can be described as a kind of gap-bridging technology until it is possible to rear a more profitable dual-use breed.