Egg sex determination ready for high-volume

With societal concerns about the culling of day-old layer males growing, companies are rushing to come up with alternatives. Sex determination in the egg, as early as possible in the hatchery, is the way to go. Different methods are market ready, some puncturing the egg to take a look inside, some non-invasive. A system for the latter is now ready for high-volume, practical application.


ince the beginning of 2020 the company AAT tech- nologies has stepped into the limelight with Cheggy, the first machine determining layer chicks’ gender using hyperspectral measurements. Hy-Line France

has been using hyperspectral measurement technology to determine the sex of the egg since the beginning of 2020. “From our hatchery in Brittany we have been supplying in- ovo sexed chicks from the brand Hy-Line Brown to the French market since spring 2020,” says Frédéric Masson, managing director of Hy-Line France. “As the market share for brown layers in France is over 90%, Cheggy can very quickly con- tribute to the high demands of the egg market in France.” For the German market, AAT already began offering its Cheg- gy-sexed eggs in June 2020. Now, other European countries are adopting the technology: IBERTEC in Spain and Pluriton in Belgium can offer sexed brown layer chicks for the Spanish and Benelux markets, respectively.

Based on feather colour The new technology marks a breakthrough in hyperspectral measurement. “After years of intensive research and devel- opment work, this technology, based on the detection of the feather colour, is the first procedure suitable for the high volumes of a modern hatchery,” says Jörg Hurlin, managing director of AAT. “Our technology is currently the most cost- efficient process on the market.” In fact, hyperspectral meas- urement technology has several advantages. The procedure can be fully automated with high accuracy (currently greater

than 95%) and more than 20,000 eggs can be tested per hour and machine. The procedure is non-invasive, so the eggshell does not have to be opened to take liquid samples. There- fore, there is no risk of contamination and no risk of injury to the embryo. Thus, there are no hatching losses and the technology makes additional contributions to animal wel- fare. Finally, no chemicals need to be used in hyperspectral measurement technology, which makes Cheggy particularly environmentally friendly.

Welfare friendly “With this technology, it is possible to determine the sex ‘in- ovo’ of all brown-laying hens hatched for the French market,” adds Vincent Baumier, managing director of Lohmann France. “We can also meet the needs of other European countries concerning the safe and sustainable sex determination of hatching eggs on a large scale.” Due to the sex-determination time – like all current procedures for sex determination, this happens in the second third of the incubation period – AAT also offers an additional, innovative and particularly animal welfare-friendly procedure. ‘Stunny’ can anaesthetize male embryos in accordance with animal welfare requirements. This ensures the adherence to animal protection guidelines and marks another decisive advantage over other processes. Jörg Hurlin, managing director of AAT, states: “We aim to offer supply chains without the need for culling of day-old males, starting 2022 in Europe.”

▶ POULTRY WORLD | No. 1, 2021 39

Hyperspectral measurement technology is non-invasive, so the eggshell does not have to be opened.


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