Ratios of commercial chicks
Finding a method to alter sex ratios of commercial chicks
We are searching for gene targets that would allow us to purposefully alter the sexes of chicks hatched in the poultry industry.
Currently, over 200 million chicks are killed in commercial poultry industries annually because they are the "wrong" sex. If we could find a method to skew the sexes of chicks towards the preferred sex, this would save millions of dollars for the industry and reduce associated welfare concerns.
We have found that treatment with two hormones, testosterone and corticosterone, effectively skews the sex ratios of chicks towards males (up to 80% male chicks). However, hormone treatments are prohibited by the FDA. Thus, through proposed work funded by the National Science Foundation, we are currently working to identify gene targets involved in the process to produce a non-hormone method to alter avian sex ratios.
In the near future, this would could have a significant economic impact within the poultry industry.