German scientists at Leipzig University, one of the world’s oldest universities, have developed a method that may spare the 45 million male chicks culled by the nation’s egg industry each year.
Called SELEGGT, the company aims to make the new technology free to hatcheries as soon as 2020. Minister of Agriculture for the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture Julia Klöckner, SELEGGT’s managing director Dr. Ludger Breloh, and deputy chairman and the executive board of REWE Group, owner of Germany’s second-largest supermarket chain, Jan Kunath, made the announcement at a press conference earlier today.
Leipzig University scientists received roughly €5 million in funding in order to develop a method that allows hatcheries to determine the sex of chicks before they hatch. The procedure involves a laser that creates a miniature hole in the shell and a small amount of liquid is extracted, then tested for the hormone estrone sulfate, which is only present in female chickens.
“This is a big day for animal welfare in Germany,” Klöckner said at the conference. “As soon as the procedure is available to all and all hatcheries work with the method, there is no reason and no justification for chick culling. …This is a top achievement for the scientists”
“We will be working hard to make the SELEGGT procedure available to hatcheries free of charge,” said Dr. Breloh.
While SELEGGT technology does not spare female chicks born to hatcheries from their inevitable fate of laying eggs in overcrowded facilities or suffering from mental and physical stress until their bodies are spent, the aim is to spare 45 million male chicks from a gruesome death.
In Germany as well as the U.S., male chicks are typically killed by being ground up alive or gassed. Because they cannot lay eggs, their lives are viewed as worthless by the industry. Any eggs identified as male will be ground up and used for animal feed.
“You can now contribute to overcoming the practice of chick culling through your buying behavior,” Kunath added.
The product of the new technology, called “Respeggt Free Range Eggs,” will be available in REWE and Penny, a discount supermarket chain which is also owned by REWE Group, in Berlin later this month. By 2019, all 5,500 stores across Germany are expected to carry the eggs. And by 2020, the company hopes to make SELEGGT free to all hatcheries.
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