The fate of male chicks that come from chickens destined exclusively for the production of eggs (layers) is marked: the majority is sacrificed after being born, because they do not serve neither to lay eggs nor to produce meat because it is a breed of slow increase. They are not economically viable. In this way, millions of chickens end up dying. The same does not happen in the industry that is dedicated to raising chickens and chickens for meatIn this case, both sexes are alive.
To avoid the sacrifice of males, associated with animal abuseIn Germany, the Seleggt procedure – developed by the Rewe supermarkets and a technology company – has been patented, which allows to determine the sex of a chicken in the egg, nine days after being fertilized. If it is male or is not fertilized, the egg is used to produce high quality food – without waiting for it to be born as it happens now – and if it is female it will continue its incubation for 21 days. The Berlin supermarkets of the Rewe group were the first to offer their customers the new product, called respeggt.
Only in Germany is it estimated that 45 million male chickens are killed each year. To eliminate this practice, the Ministry of Food and Agriculture has allocated about five million euros to the investigation of selection procedures, informed the branch minister, Julia Klöckner, at the presentation of the new system last November. The intention is to extend the method to all Rewe establishments in Germany, and starting in 2020, to have the process available for the first hatcheries.
The procedure allows selecting the sex of the chicken using research from the University of Leipzig. The process is "minimally invasive" and is carried out with a laser that makes an incision of 0.3 millimeters in the egg shell to extract a small amount of liquid from the membrane. The interior of the egg remains intact and healthy, the company says. The substance is placed in a marker that detects a certain type of hormone present in the female ova and depends on the color that appears if the embryo is of one sex or another. The system has a reliability of 98%, says the company.
The sacrifice of male chickens of laying hens is involved in controversy. Silvia Baquero, spokesperson for the animal party Pacma, explains that you can not continue with a system that kills them well by "crushing them or crushing them by throwing them in sacks". "There are people, the genderators, who discriminate if they are females or males as it passes through a tape and that way of acting is legally permitted," he criticizes. The director of Animal Equality, Javier Moreno, considers the system as "an advance". "It seems an example of when technology can be at the service of animal life," he adds. The activist hopes that it can be implemented in the rest of the countries.
Mar Fernández, director of the Spanish Association of Egg Producers, Aseprhu, explains that companies with laying hen plants destine discarded chickens, once dead, to feed other animals such as reptiles or raptors. First they kill themselves, usually they are gassed with carbon monoxide, "a death that does not generate any pain," he specifies.
The concern extends to the sector, because Fernández says, "we have to offer society what it wants at each moment and now it does not seem acceptable to discard half of the animals." For that reason, they have been investigating for years. "Now one of the lines of research, to identify the sex of chickens before birth, has been successful, but will take long to implement on a large scale," he says. At the moment, "they have a patent and need to make a large-scale development," he says. Fernandez adds that they are working in another line to get a line that can be used both to lay eggs and to produce meat, "but knowing that it will be more expensive."