Researchers at the University of California, Davis, in collaboration with Sensit Ventures Inc., have made an interesting discovery regarding the sexing of fertilized chicken eggs. Their study, published in PLOS ONE on May 22, reveals that volatile organic chemicals emitted through the eggshell can be used to determine the sex of the embryo early in the incubation process. This breakthrough could potentially enable hatcheries to identify and separate male eggs at an early stage, eliminating the need to cull millions of male chicks after hatching. By diverting these eggs to alternative purposes, such as consumption or other applications, the wastage and environmental impact associated with male chick culling can be significantly reduced.
Existing technologies for sex determination either involve sampling the egg through a small hole in the shell or imaging techniques. However, these methods have their limitations, particularly when it comes to accuracy and the age of the eggs. The UC Davis and Sensit approach utilizes the detection of volatile organic compounds emitted by developing embryos, which permeate through the eggshell. The initial focus was to determine if there are distinguishable differences in the chemicals emitted by male and female embryos.
Professor Cristina Davis, co-author of the paper and associate vice chancellor for interdisciplinary research and strategic initiatives at UC Davis, heads the lab responsible for developing a sensing chip technology capable of collecting and analyzing organic chemicals in the air. Sensit has obtained a license for this patented technology and aims to commercialize it for various applications, including agriculture and medicine.
Source: UC Davis