During the 2021 Poultry Technology Summit webinar series that began on November 2, Dr. Yuval Cinnamon, the lead researcher of the Volcano Center’s Agricultural Research Organization, proposed a genetic solution to the NRS Poultry Sustainability and Transformation Center. Manipulate the chicken genome of the egg producer.
"In the layer industry, only hens are needed. Males who do not lay eggs are actually not welcome in the meat and egg industries," Cinnamon explains.
“7 billion males are culled every year, each male is worth about US$1, which is a loss of US$7 billion per year for the laying hen industry. As the demand for eggs increases, this problem is expected to become more and more serious. "
"There is a sustainability issue because the male eggs used to heat the incubator will eventually be eliminated," he continued. "In terms of numbers, this is one of the most devastating animal welfare issues in the world."
Previous attempts to solve this problem include biasing the male to female ratio of laying hens, a classification strategy to distinguish between males and females, and the development of dual-use breeds (sending males into the meat industry). However, these attempts did not provide a permanent solution for the industry.
Cinnamon and his team developed a molecular method in which the industry can modulate the activation of the Z chromosome through an optogenetic system using blue light that passes through the eggshell of an incubator.
"Males have two Z chromosomes, and females have one Z chromosome and one W chromosome. In chickens, the female determines the sex of the offspring. If the Z chromosome separates from the hen to the chick, it will develop into a male. If the W chromosome separates , It will develop into a female," Cinnamon said.
According to the NRS Poultry website, “NRS Poultry uses technology to affect changes in the Z chromosome of the maternal parent that is only separated from the male embryo. Due to chromosome segregation, the female layer will never be affected by this change. Due to the Z chromosome from the maternal parent , The male egg will stop developing at very early embryogenesis (with only two layers of cells). Female eggs that receive the wild-type chromosome will hatch and develop without genetically modified organisms."
The process is expected to run with 100% accuracy because it is a genetic solution and eliminates human error. Dr. Cinnamon confirmed that the European Commission recognizes that fresh eggs and laying hens produced using this technology are non-GMO and can be immediately sold in all EU member states without restrictions.
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Meredith Johnson is the executive editor of Egg Industry Insight. https://www.wattglobalmedia.com/contact-us/