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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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Public urged to provide homes for swifts

News Story 1
 The RSPB is calling on the public to help provide new homes for swifts, as figures show the birds' numbers have fallen to less than half what they were 20 years ago.

Swifts arrive in the UK late April-May and can spend up to three months in the country. The RSPB attributes the birds’ decline to modern buildings, which lack the nooks and crannies they need to build nests.

While some house builders have agreed to integrate swift homes into new buildings, the RSPB believes more can be done to help this incredible bird. 'Just, 1,000 additional new nest boxes could make a difference’, the charity said.  

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News Shorts
Detection time for omeprazole reduced to 48 hours in racehorses

The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has announced that the detection time for omeprazole has been reduced from 72 hours to 48 hours. This is effective from 1 February 2019.

Omeprazole can be prescribed for the management of gastric ulcers in racehorses; however, studies have recently become available that show no direct effect of omeprazole on performance.

Tim Morris, the Authority’s Director of Equine Science and Welfare, commented: “Medication control in horse racing is essential to allow treatment for good welfare but also to ensure fair racing by medication withdrawal before racing. Trainers have asked for more information, especially on anti-ulcer medications, and we have used existing information to make a harmonised detection time for omeprazole available as soon as we could.”