Billions of male chicks are killed every year by the poultry industry. It’s a common industry practice known as culling, destroy the day-old chickens through asphyxiation, or, more gruesomely, maceration, a process involving a conveyor belt and a giant blender. I’ll spare you the videos, but they’re readily available online, if you’re so inclined.
The reason behind the highly controversial practice is the fact that chickens bred for egg laying don’t have enough body mass to financially justify raising for meat. That means only the females make money for the farm. The other are, quite literally, tossed aside en masse.
TeraEgg, a technology announced this week by Vital Farms and Tel Aviv technology company Novatrans is designed bring the practice to an end by identifying the gender and fertility of eggs through a non-invasive process using terahertz spectroscopy. The technology is able to whether it is male, female, or infertile through the detection of gasses that leak from the pores of the egg within seconds, rather than allowing the chicken to hatch – a process that takes around three weeks.
The technology, which is anticipated for commercial deployment by the end of 2017, could save billions of chicks per year – and, more importantly perhaps to the companies responsible for the culling, it could save money.