Hendrix Genetics is to partner with Australia's national science agency to explore sex sorting technology at the point of lay in the poultry and egg laying industry.
Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), has developed technology which can identify eggs containing male embryos before they are incubated and hatched.
This discovery represents a significant breakthrough as research into a sustainable solution for the practice of euthanising male layer chicks has been ongoing.
Hendrix Genetics will now begin working with CSIRO to test the viability of the system and assess how it could be integrated into current practices in the egg laying industry.
The technology uses a biomarker protein which is found only in male embryos, ultimately allowing identification of male embryos before the incubation stage. Johan van Arendonk, chief innovation and technology officer at Hendrix Genetics, said:
"This new technology has the potential to address ethical animal welfare concerns and to contribute to a more sustainable egg industry.
"We are proud of our involvement in studying this potentially groundbreaking innovation while still keeping the health of our animals as top priority."
As broiler chickens are bred specifically to do so, they can produce meat efficiently and sustainably regardless of their gender. However, while males from a laying breed cannot produce an egg, they are also poor at producing high quality meat, damaging the sustainability of the industry.
According to Hendrix Genetics, this technology would pave the way for more sustainable management of this dilemma. It also stated that it could lead to a solution for a major animal ethics and welfare challenge, while lowering the carbon footprint of the egg laying industry.
Speaking about this welfare challenge, Dr. Mark Tizard, CSIRO scientist said:
"Sex sorting technology is unique as this sustainable solution means the food product, the eggs, and the hens that lay them, will remain exactly the same as they are today."