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New process could end culling of male chicks
The SELEGGT process negates the need to incubate male eggs and cull them on hatching.
Gender can now be identified in hatching eggs 

Germany could be one step closer to ending the culling of male chicks in hatcheries, as scientists introduce a new method of gender identification.

In Germany alone, 45 million male chicks from laying hen breeds are culled each year as they do not fatten enough meat. The Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) provided a €5 million grant to develop a method of gender identification in hatching eggs.

Now market-ready, the process - developed by SELEGGT - negates the need to incubate male eggs and cull them on hatching. It uses a laser to burn a hole of no more than 0.3mm into the shell of the hatching egg. A small amount of allantois fluid is then placed on a patented marker outside the hatching egg.

A colour change indicates the presence of the hormone estrone sulphate, which shows that the developing egg is female. The egg does not need to be resealed after identification, as the inner membrane mends itself and closes the tiny hole from within.

Only female chicks will hatch on the 21st day after incubation; male eggs will be separated and processed into animal feed. According to SELEGGT, the test has an accuracy rate of around 98 per cent.

Federal minister of food and agriculture, Julia Klöckner, commented: “This is a great day for animal welfare in Germany! In this way we will set the pace in Europe…

“…once the process is made available to all and the hatcheries have implemented the process, there will be no reason and no justification for chick culling.”

The first table eggs from laying hens that have gone through the process are now available in 223 REWE and PENNY stores in Berlin. A national launch is planned for all of the REWE Group’s 5,500 stores in Germany in the upcoming year.

SELEGGT is working on a business model to make the technology available to the industry as a cost-neutral service. The patented process will be available to the first hatcheries in 2020.

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Endangered turtles rescued from smugglers

News Story 1
 A group of endangered turtles have found a new home at London Zoo after being rescued from smugglers.

The four big-headed turtles arrived at the zoo at the end of last year, after smugglers tried to illegally import them to Canada, labelled as toys.

One of the turtles, named Lady Triệu after a Vietnamese warrioress, has moved to a new exhibit in the zoo’s reptile house. She is the only one of her kind in a UK zoo.

Big-headed turtles have such large heads that they cannot pull them back into their shells. To compensate, they have armour plating from head to tail and a very sharp beak to fend off predators. They are ranked number 18 on ZSL’s EDGE of Existence reptile list, which puts threatened species at the forefront of conservation action. Image © ZSL  

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RCVS Fellowship board chair elections get underway

Voting for the 2019 RCVS Fellowship Chair election is now underway. This year four candidates are standing for election, including Dr Robert Huey, Professor John Innes, Professor Liz Mossop and Professor Ian Ramsey.

The Chair will attend and preside over Fellowship meetings and take the lead in consolidating the Fellowship’s position as the learned society of the RCVS. Fellows will receive an email containing a link to the online voting form, as well as candidates’ details and manifestos. Voting closes at 5pm on Thursday, 5 September.