The Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research (FFAR), in partnership with Open Philanthropy, today launched Phase II of the Egg-Tech Prize, a competition to accurately and rapidly determine a chick’s sex before it hatches. The Egg-Tech Prize has the potential to revolutionize global egg production by preventing the culling of day-old male chicks and improving global food production, saving billions of dollars.
Currently, egg industry workers are only able to identify a chick’s sex after it hatches. About half of the 12 billion chickens hatched each year for egg production are female, and these hens supply the world’s eggs. The other six billion male chicks hatched are unsuitable for consumption, as they tend to have poor growth and meat quality. As a result, they are culled once hatched, creating a major animal welfare challenge, and loss of time and resources for producers.
Phase II of the Egg-Tech Prize is the final stage of a two-part $6 million program intended to develop technologies for accurate, high-speed and early-stage sex determination of layer chicks while still in the egg. In 2019, FFAR awarded approximately $2 million in Phase I Seed Grants to investigate and develop novel, primarily non-invasive approaches to solving the egg-sexing challenge. In the second phase of the program, the Egg-Tech Prize is offering $4 million to the individual(s) or team(s) that has the potential to provide a scalable, commercially viable solution to determine in-ovo sexing, and end male chick culling worldwide.
Estimates suggest that preventing male chick culling would save the egg industry approximately $500 million from wasted eggs and labor and significantly reduce the industry’s carbon footprint. If egg hatcheries had technology to determine the sex of an egg the day it is laid, over six billion eggs containing male embryos could be used for food, animal feed or vaccine production.
“The Egg-Tech Prize could lead to a powerful tool that can improve the global food system, while increasing the profitability of egg producers,” said FFAR Scientific Program Director Dr. Tim Kurt.
Applications are due August 31, 2022, by 5 p.m. EDT. If there is a successful entry, FFAR intends to award the prize(s) in fall 2022, and the recipient will receive $1 million per year for four years. Visit the Egg-Tech Prize Request for Proposals webpage for additional information, including application guidelines.
FFAR welcomes applications from all domestic and international higher education institutions, non-profit and for-profit organizations and government-affiliated research agencies. Any individual(s) with the skills, knowledge and resources necessary to perform the proposed research as program director(s)/principal investigator(s) may apply through their home institution or organization.
Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research
The Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research (FFAR) builds public-private partnerships to fund bold research addressing big food and agriculture challenges. FFAR was established in the 2014 Farm Bill to increase public agriculture research investments, fill knowledge gaps and complement USDA’s research agenda. FFAR’s model matches federal funding from Congress with private funding, delivering a powerful return on taxpayer investment. Through collaboration and partnerships, FFAR advances actionable science benefiting farmers, consumers and the environment.
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