Huge potential for technology that classifies eggs as infertile, male, and female

Huge potential for technology that classifies eggs as infertile, male, and female

An end is in sight for the unethical, unsustainable, and very expensive nasty secret of the poultry industry — the annual kill of an estimated seven billion one-day-old layer chicks, because they are male and can’t lay eggs.

Orbem, a company headquartered in Munich, Germany, has developed patented artificial intelligence-powered imaging technology which classifies eggs as infertile, male, and female.

Orbem’s digital technology, called Genus, automatically analyses and classifies eggs without destroying them.

The poultry industry grows broilers for meat, and layers for eggs.

Broilers, bred and designed for quick weight gain, suffer from low fertility rates. Therefore, many infertile eggs never develop a chicken when incubated, and cannot be consumed, leading to the waste of more than nine billion eggs annually.

The Orbem co-founders, from left, Dr Miguel Molina, Dr Maria Laparidou, and Dr Pedro Gómez
The Orbem co-founders, from left, Dr Miguel Molina, Dr Maria Laparidou, and Dr Pedro Gómez

Orbem’s technology prevents this, by identifying infertile eggs early enough for them to be used in the food market.

The even bigger problem in the poultry industry is killing billions of day-old male chicks of the layer breed, which is optimised to lay eggs.

The male layer chicks can’t lay eggs, nor can they gain weight fast enough to compete with broilers in the meat market, so seven billion are killed immediately after hatching.

Not surprisingly, Orbem’s answer to this unsavoury feature of the food industry has featured in many awards for new technology.

It was one of three winners in the 2019 EIT Food Accelerator Network Programme, EIT Food is a consortium of 50 partners with the ambition to create a future-proof, effective, “connected” food system.

The Orbem Co-founders are Dr Maria Laparidou, Dr Pedro Gómez, and Dr Miguel Molina.

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