We, the respeggt GmbH, hold the rights to the respeggt label “Free of Chick Culling”. The label represents the promise that the table eggs and the egg products in foodstuffs have been produced free of the usual “chick culling” of day-old male chicks. This product promise is based on the implementation of a method for gender identification in the hatching egg.
At the end of the 21-22 days incubation period, the laying hen chicks hatch from the fertilised hatching eggs. Usually, the male chicks, who hatch alongside the females, are killed in the hatcheries since they are unable to lay eggs. Only the female chicks are reared and later lay the table eggs as adult laying hens.
Gender identification in the hatching egg allows the male hatching eggs to be identified and sorted out during the incubation period. As a result, only the female hatching eggs are incubated until the end. This way we avoid killing the day-old male chicks.
We offer all hatcheries the service of gender identification in the hatching egg to sort their hatching eggs. This service is offered to hatcheries at no extra cost. Only when the subsequently produced table eggs are sold, do we charge the packing centres a licence fee per table egg. A major advantage of this approach is that smaller hatcheries will still be able to compete in the market. No extra investment is required in order to implement the process of gender identification in the hatching egg and to sell female chicks with the label “Free of Chick Culling”.
In order to keep the product promise “Free of Chick Culling”, we have developed a new type of “respeggt Supply Chain Management System (r-SCMS)” based on block chain technology. All female laying hen chicks hatched “Free of Chick Culling” are now called: respeggt chicks. The respeggt chicks are traced throughout their entire life cycle from the hatchery to the rearing farm and later to the laying hen farm. In addition, the respeggt eggs laid by each respeggt flock are traced up until they are sorted and packed at the packing centres. Every single respeggt egg receives a respeggt stamp. In addition, the egg cartons bear the respeggt label “Free of Chick Culling”.
With the help of the r-SCMS and by carrying out the gender identification in the hatching egg process ourselves we can keep the product promise “Free of Chick Culling”. This means: Eggs with a respeggt stamp, always come from a respeggt laying hen. So-called “mass balancing” or“book and claim” processes (aka. certificate trading) are prohibited in respeggt supply chains.
We are currently using the SELEGGT process. The SELEGGT process was developed by Prof. Einspanier and her team at the University of Leipzig. A small drop of fluid is extracted noninvasively from the fertilised hatching eggs. The extracted drops of fluid are put into a patented marker outside of the hatching egg. Then a reaction takes place where the colour of the sample changes making it easy to identify whether the hatching egg is male or female. The male hatching eggs are turned into a high-quality feed. Consequently, only female chicks hatch on the 21st day of the incubation period.
In principle, all other practical methods of gender identification in the hatching egg could also be offered to egg production supply chains applying the respeggt model.
The technological developments for gender identification in the hatching egg are progressing rapidly. If we were to sell a capital-intensive technology to a hatchery today, this technology could soon become obsolete and possibly no longer competitive. Furthermore, the investment innew technology would contribute to the fact that the first hatcheries to start the practice would have to sell their chicks at a higher price than hatcheries which continue to use the cheaper chick culling practice.
By offering gender identification in the hatching egg as a cost-neutral service to hatcheries, possible constraints and barriers hindering the end of chick culling are eliminated. We like to call this business model “Sexing as a Service” (SaaS).
In this way, the “Free of Chick Culling” table eggs can be produced cost neutrally. The refinancing of the gender identification in the hatching egg is carried out by a licence fee for the “Free of Chick Culling” table eggs, which the packing centre must pay to respeggt GmbH.
The crucial factor for the sectoral phase-out of chick culling is now whether and to what extent food retailers and the food industry offer or process eggs “Free of Chick Culling”. This dynamic determines the time frame within which a sectoral paradigm shift towards phasing out chick culling can be realised.
A certain percentage of all clutches from a laying hen per year are processed into long-life egg products (dried whole egg, egg powder...) in designated egg product factories and then serve as raw material for the food industry. This raw material can also be obtained from “Free of Chick Culling” eggs. This leaves the opportunity of also licensing “Free of Chick Culling” egg products. There are foodstuffs such as egg noodles, egg liqueurs and egg salads already available with the “Free of Chick Culling” label in a selection of supermarkets. The interest of the food industry is constantly growing to communicate the added value “Free of Chick Culling” also on processed food with egg products.
We currently only use the SELEGGT process. This process has a success rate of approximately 97%. As a result, there is always a certain number of male chicks among the hatched female chicks. These male chicks resulting from a sexing error are not killed as usual, but rather are brought to the rearing farms with the female chicks. At the age of approx. 13 weeks, the animals have matured into cockerels and are sorted out at the rearing farms and taken to a slaughterhouse. We compensate the rearing farms for this incorrect delivery and can thereby keep the product promise that no male chicks were killed in the respeggt supply chains.
Yes, respeggt GmbH is an independent company. This allows us to offer all practice-ready methods of gender identification in the hatching egg to all supply chain partners in egg production. Every hatchery, every laying hen farm, every egg packing centre and every food retailer or food producer as well as all poultry breeds have unhindered and equal access to the services we provide.
Currently, we only carry out gender identification in the hatching egg in a hatchery in Barneveld (NL). Since March 2020, hatching eggs identified as female in Barneveld can be transported to external hatcheries immediately after the procedure. That is where the respeggt chicks will hatch after 21-22 days of incubation and are traced along their supply chain using the r-SCMS.
In Barneveld, the capacity of the hatchery has been designed in such a way that up to 60,000 respeggt laying hens can be raised per week.
Thanks to the fully automatic carousel process, gender identification in the hatching egg can be carried out every second (1 egg/sec).
Since the beginning of 2020, the demand for respeggt chicks and “Free of Chick Culling” table eggs has increased rapidly. Both the social discourse and the political framework contribute to an ever increasing awareness of consumers and stakeholders. For this reason, food retailers have formulated ambitious goals and commitments that their table eggs will be promptly switched to “Free of Chick Culling” supply chains. To meet this strong demand, 12 packing centres have already become respeggt partners. Their supply chains already comprise over 1 million respeggt laying hens. Their eggs are stamped with the respeggt stamp in the respeggt packing centres and have already been delivered to over 6,000 supermarkets in Germany, the Netherlands and France.
If the demand for respeggt eggs triggered by the retail food industry continues to increase strongly, it will be necessary in 2020 to equip other hatcheries besides Barneveld with the gender identification in the hatching egg process.