Abigail Klein Leichman
December 28, 2022

Every year, the global egg industry “culls” — suffocates or grinds to death – six to seven billion male chicks. The males are commercially useless because they cannot lay eggs and aren’t the right breed for meat.

Though many countries have pledged to find alternatives to this gruesome practice, proposed solutions are not always cost effective and often require egg producers to purchase, install and learn how to use new equipment.

Israeli startups attempting to solve this problem include eggXYt, an automated system to determine the sex of chicks before incubation; and SooS Technology, which is piloting an AI-driven incubation system that changes genetic male embryos into functional females capable of laying eggs.

Golda, the Israeli hen that lays only female eggs
SooS Technology’s experimental poultry farm in upstate New York. Photo courtesy of SooS Technology

Now offering a different approach is the Israeli molecular biology company Huminn: a hen named Golda that produces only female chicks, thanks to genetic editing.

When Golda hen eggs are exposed to blue light for several hours, the edited DNA is activated to stop the development of any male embryos while leaving female embryos intact.

Everything else about Golda hens and their chicks is identical to other laying hens.

The unique technology was developed by animal science researcher Yuval Cinnamon from the Volcani Center Agricultural Research Organization in conjunction with the UK-based animal welfare organization Compassion in World Farming (CIWF).

The spinoff company Poultry by Huminn was established in collaboration with Huminn (formerly Impact NRS) and the Volcani Institute to commercialize this technology.

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