Supply chain of shell eggs

In order to better understand the relevant changes of the SELEGGT process, it is important to take a closer look at the supply chain of shell eggs in Germany.

The life of an egg

This is what current industry looks like:

Every year in Germany, around 100 million hatching eggs are needed to supply the layer farms with new hens. The hatching eggs come from parent livestock farms where hens and cocks are held together in a ratio of 9:1. These fertilised hatching eggs are constantly sent to specialized hatcheries. There, they are bred in so-called setters for 18 days.

After 18 days of breeding, the hatching eggs are removed from the setters and fluoroscopy or heart-rate monitoring are used to test if the individual hatching egg is fertilised or not. The unfertilised, so-called ‘infertile eggs’ (approx. 10%) are rejected. The remaining fertilised eggs are moved from the brooding racks to hatching boxes and left to brood for about another four days.

The chicks hatch on day 21/22. The chicks are then sorted manually by gender as soon as they hatch. With some breeds, you can tell the gender by looking at the feathers. However, with most chicks born to egg-laying breeds in Germany, you can only determine the gender if an expert presses carefully on the cloaca of the animal. The chicks are therefore sorted by hand. After that the male day-old chicks of the egg-laying breed are put to sleep with CO2 gas and then killed.

Amongst other things, the dead male chicks are used as reptile food in zoos. The female chicks, when hatched, are immunised in the hatchery and then swiftly sent to rearing farms. After a rearing time of around 18 weeks, the young hens are transferred to the layer farms. After their 20th week of life, they start to lay their own eggs.  In the ensuing laying period, which lasts one year on average, the hens lay at least 300 consumer eggs.

At the age of around 80 weeks, the hens are slaughtered and then for example sold as soup chicken.

Approximately 50% of the eggs laid are M or L sizes and are mainly sold directly to the end consumers in cartons. Undersized, oversized and broken eggs are sent to a processing plant. Here, various egg products (e.g. egg powder) are produced that are used in various sectors in the food industry.

Processes in the hatcheries without no gender identification

Due to the fact that there is no practice-ready process for identifying the gender in the hatching egg, internal processes at hatcheries are currently as follows:

Hatcheries using SELEGGT process

With the help of the SELEGGT process, the future processes in a SELEGGT hatchery will look like this:

The SELEGGT process will bring about many changes to the internal processes at the hatcheries.

The hatching eggs are firstly put into the setter. Here, they are bred for nine days. On day nine, the hatching eggs are candled to check if they are fertilised or not. The fertilized hatching eggs are then subjected to the SELEGGT process to identify the gender.

The rejected male hatching eggs and infertile eggs will be turned into high-value feed.

The female hatching eggs are returned to the setter, where they continue to incubate until the 18th day. After this, they are moved to the hatcher. This way, only female chicks hatch after three further days of incubation.

After the young hens have been reared, they are sent to layer farms as usual and begin the laying period. These eggs can now be sold with the added quality “No chick culling” – thanks to gender identification in the egg. More information can be found on our consumer site: