The eggs, which are available in Berlin, are created using new technology called Seleggt which makes it possible to determine the sex of a chick before it hatches.
The incubation period lasts for 21 days. Using this new technology, sex can be determined at just nine days, so eggs containing male chicks are processed into animal feed.
An estimated 4-6 billion chicks are killed by the egg industry each year. Culling methods include suffocation and maceration.
Culling male chicks
“If you can determine the sex of a hatching egg you can entirely dispense with the culling of live male chicks,” said Dr. Ludger Breloh, Managing Direct of Seleggt, who has spearheaded the four-year programme by German supermarket Rewe Group to find a solution.
“It’s not about winning or losing. We all have the same goal, which is to end the culling of chicks in the supply chain.
“Of course, there’s competition, but it’s positive in that it keeps us all focused on that goal.”
A marker is used to detect the chick’s sex – it has been described as similar to a pregnancy test. It can detect a hormone which is higher in female eggs once mixed with fluid from fertilized eggs.
A laser beam burns a 0.3mm-wide hole in the egg shell, and air pressure pushes out a drop of fluid which is mixed with the marker. The marker has an accuracy rate of 98.5 percent.
Rewe Group says it wants to roll out its ‘no kill eggs’ across all of Germany over the next 12 months, with plans to eventually expand the model across Europe.
While the model saves the lives of the male chicks, the ‘no kill’ label appears to be disingenous – the company does not appear to have made any public statement about the laying hens.
Hens are generally killed at a young age once their bodies are spent from laying eggs. Their lives are often intensive, and even at free-range facilities, they lack the space and freedom to carry out their natural behaviors.
This technology was developed as a response to consumer concern over culling chicks: by slapping a ‘no kill’ label on the box, attention is moved away from the myriad concerns around egg production aside from male culling.
These include animal use and exploitation, animal suffering, and of course, a premature, painful, and frightening slaughter. These eggs are not vegan. Years of research and this technical answer seem like overkill – surely the only realistic answer to concern over animal suffering is to stop supporting animal agriculture all together.