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Lohmann Adopts SELEGGT Circuit System For In-Ovo Sexing


In order to comply with a German law banning euthanasia of male chicks to take effect in 2024, Lohmann Deutschland GmbH & Co. KG. has adopted the SELEGGT Circuit system for a large hatchery located in Ankum. The SELEGGT system was developed at the University of Leipzig and was commercialized by Hatchtech of Holland.The principle of operation is based on extraction of a small quantity of allantoic fluid from nine-day incubated eggs to detect estrone produced by female embryos.


Dr. Ludger Breloh, Managing Director of the Respeggt Group, noted, “We are very happy about this new cooperation with Lohmann Deutschland.  Despite the uncertainty about the possible upcoming restrictions from 2024 we have decided together that this is the right signal for the sector.”  With the installation of the SELEGGT process in Germany a resource-saving and an early as possible technology will be made available.  Economically viable solutions like this are needed in Germany to put a sustainable end to chick culling”.


Installation of SELEGGT equipment will allow Lohmann to offer sexed pullet chicks from both brown and white strains. The installation will initially cover three million pullets annually that collectively will produce one billion eggs bearing the certified label claim, “Free of Chick Culling”.  Respeggt eggs will be available in more than 6,000 supermarkets and discount stores in Germany, the Netherlands, France and Switzerland by the end of 2022, with more than 10 million sexed pullets already placed.


The equipment required to extract and analyze allantoic fluid imposes restraints of volume, maintenance and cost. The principle of embryonic hormone assay was originally developed by Embrex in the U.S. during the late 1990s but failed to gain commercial acceptance for sex-separate broiler growing. The hormonal approach to early differentiation of eggs bearing either male or female embryos is regarded as a bridging technology to comply with imminent legal directives.


The genetic approach involving insertion of a modified z-chromosome construct into the C-strain grandparent is far more elegant as it permits optogenic differentiation of eggs bearing either male or female embryos. The system has been developed and demonstrated to be effective by NRS Poultry Sustainability of Israel. The approach does however require genetic modification at the grand-parent level although commercial level pullets with conventional zw chromosomes are effectively non-GMO.


It is understood from a recent press release that Hendrix-Genetics is partnering with the CSIRO of Australia in the development of a similar genetic approach requiring “a biomarker to be placed on the genome of male embryos ---to sex chicks in ovo