For the first time in France, an in ovo sexing technique is being trialled by French retailer Carrefour, in partnership with its supplier Les Fermiers de Loué and the AAT group, a global specialist in hatching.
The fast and non-invasive technology for sexing the egg by spectrophotometry (i.e. colour analysis) makes it possible to identify the sex of the birds before they hatch, thus avoiding the need to cull male chicks after their birth in the egg production cycle.
The eggs from these hens will be available on shelf from 1st May 2020, in Carrefour’s FQC egg range (Carrefour Quality Line), and the technology used will have benefitted over 30,000 laying hens.
Carrefour plans to extend the in ovo sexing practice across all its own-brand eggs, as soon as a solution can be deployed on a large scale among all of its suppliers.
Amélie Legrand, Senior Food Business Manager, France, comments: “Compassion welcomes this latest initiative from Carrefour and their partner Loué, which aims to test and deploy a sexing solution for eggs so that we no longer have to resort to killing male chicks after hatching. We will continue to follow these trials with great interest and share our recommendations on any points of progress moving forwards.”
Carrefour’s cage-free progress
Carrefour has also indicated that as from 1 March 2020, all its French stores will be selling only cage-free eggs under its own-brand label. This equates to 500 million eggs, with 80% coming from free range and organic systems, and 20% from barns systems with winter gardens.
The retailer is also making progress in replacing eggs from caged hens with eggs from free range or barn systems for 650 of its processed products, marketed under the Carrefour brand.
Ending the culling of male chicks
Compassion encourages all initiatives that prevent the unnecessary suffering of animals and fully supports practices to end the culling of male chicks in the egg industry – which is something all consumers want and expect.
The best solution is for companies to use dual-purpose breeds, where the male birds are reared for their meat and the females for their eggs. In 2015, Coop Switzerland was awarded by Compassion for developing and marketing their ‘dual purpose’ chicken – watch the video here.
We also encourage the development of large-scale egg sexing techniques which identify the sex of the bird before the embryo is able to feel pain, such as the technology being trialled by Carrefour and its partners today.
In 2018, Compassion awarded German company Seleggt for their work in helping to address the issue of culling male chicks by developing an endocrinological method for identifying the sex of hatching eggs. Watch the video here.