Breakthrough Discovery Could Save Billions Of Baby Chickens From Suffering

<p> <a href="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/59/1_day_old_chick_hatchling.jpg">Wikimedia</a> </p>

Every year, hundreds of millions of male chicks on factory farms are killed shortly after entering the world simply because their gender is of no use to egg production. In a process called "sexing," these tiny animals are typically sorted out to be ground up, gassed, suffocated or shocked to death - their short lives defined by suffering.

But the industrial-scale slaughter could become a thing of the past, thanks to a scientific breakthrough that shows promise in ending the misery for billions of baby chickens before it even begins.

Wikimedia

A method to determine the sex of a chicken still inside his egg, at a point early enough that the embryo does not experience pain, has been discovered by researcher Maria-Elisabeth Krautwald-Junghanns at the University of Leipzig in Germany. Embryos that would become male chicks could be destroyed far more humanely than methods available today for killing hatched chicks, the university said in a statement.

For her work, the veterinary professor was chosen for the Felix Wankel prize, an award given for outstanding research for the "purpose of enhancing animal protection."

Wikimedia

The development of a practical way to implement Krautwald-Junghanns's method could prevent pain and suffering for countless male chicks, 40 million of whom are killed every year in Germany alone.

Animal welfare concerns aside, the poultry industry might have no choice but to embrace this more humane solution. As it turns out, nobody wants to be a chicken "sexer," and the reasons why aren't hard to understand.