Israel-based Soos Technology, an animal agriculture technology start-up, was named the winner of the $1M prize for the Grow-NY food and agriculture competition this week. The competition was comprised of over 260 competitors from around the world and included the following runner-ups winners: SoFresh, Zetifi, Candidus, Halomine, Leep Foods, and PureSpace.
Soos Technology aims to disrupt the commercial egg hatchery industry through its incubation system. Through this system, the sex development of poultry embryos is influenced to change a genetic male chick to an egg-laying female. A variety of factors, including temperature, humidity, sound vibration, and carbon dioxide levels, are used to affect the gene expression responsible for the reproductive system.
The commercial egg hatchery industry is notoriously cruel for male chicks. Since males cannot lay eggs and it takes too long to raise them to become the proper size for meat, male chicks are often culled as soon as they hatch. This means that 6 billion male chicks are culled each year; Soos Technology wants to end this waste of life, energy, water, and incubation space through its incubation system.
Several countries like the U.S., France, Germany, and Canada aim to get rid of this standard industry practice and are trialing “in-ovo” sexing. The method involves determining the gender of the embryo long before the chick hatches in order to completely avoid the culling of male chicks. The male eggs would be removed from incubation and used for making vaccines and pet food. A Texas-based company, Ovabrite, is developing a technology that separates female and male eggs based on the sex-specific volatile molecules that leak from eggshells. Jerusalem-based eggXYT is implementing CRISPR gene-editing that would cause male eggs to glow under certain lighting.
With “in-ovo” sexing being trialed and Soos Technologies incubation system, it seems possible to end the culling of male chicks in the near future.