Israeli researchers revealed a significant development that could stop the annual indiscriminate killing of billions of male chicks.
The new technology uses genetically altered hens, known as Golda hens, to generate eggs that only produce females.
The technology was created over seven years with the assistance of Poultry by Huminn and a team led by Dr. Yuval Cinnamon, a specialist in embryology, at the Israeli Agricultural Research Organization’s Volcani Center.
About 7 billion laying hens are thought to be used for egg production worldwide, and one male chick is removed from each hen.
According to Cinnamon, the production of table eggs worldwide is projected to be over 80 million tons per year or over two trillion eggs.
For the sake of animals and people, he remarked, “We are really glad to be able to present a workable solution to… the most catastrophic animal welfare issue in the livestock business worldwide.”
Male chicks are mass-murdered because they are too expensive to raise for meat and do not compete with broiler hens, a separate breed of hen that produces meat birds that are stronger and grow quicker than laying hens.
The discovery might cut the cost of hatching chicks in half and stop the frequently brutal methods of getting rid of male chicks.
Because of their color rather than in honor of former Israeli prime minister Golda Meir, the hens were given the name “Golda Hens.”
The Z chromosome is carried by roosters, whereas hens have the Z and W chromosomes.
When two Zs get together, a male chick is a result. A female chick will develop if the mother adds the W chromosome to the father’s Z.
The study group found a method to genetically modify the hen’s Z chromosome so that eggs containing male embryos will prematurely halt development and not hatch.
Only female chicks can hatch from Golda’s viable eggs, and these female chicks then lay table eggs.
The resulting female chicks are not genetically altered because they acquired the father’s unaltered Z chromosome and the mother’s unaltered W chromosome.
The European Union’s director general for health and food safety has reportedly studied the technology and determined that both the egg-laying hens from the Golda line and the eggs they produce can be sold without any regulatory changes, according to a statement from the Huminn company.
Cinnamon noted that the Israeli Agriculture Ministry and the US FDA were also reviewing the findings and expressed the hope that they will do the same.
This change occurs as the world’s demand for eggs is predicted to increase by 50% between 2020 and 2035.
The business wants to provide Golda chicks to anyone who wants to hatch their eggs for food.
“In recent years, we have seen a change in consciousness around the world regarding animal welfare, but on the other side, no workable solutions have been developed to halt the regrettable issue of murdering the male chicks,” continued Yaarit Wainberg, CEO of Poultry by Huminn.
We are honored and thrilled to be the first company in the world to present a workable solution that significantly impacts the whole value chain, all based on Israeli research and innovation.
An American-Israeli innovation firm called Huminn, founded five years ago under the name NRS Agro Innovation, works to develop and market cutting-edge solutions for human and animal welfare, nutrition, and health.
It has several agreements for strategic partnerships with Israeli organizations.
These include the Weizmann Institute of Science, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, The National Institute for Biotechnology in the Negev, and the Volcani Center.