CORDIS - EU research results

In Ovo’s automated sexing solution for chicken eggs

Project description

High-throughput solution for in-egg selection of laying hens

Every year, about 7 billion laying hens are hatched. For every hen, a rooster hatches, too. These male animals do not have a purpose in table egg production. Therefore, after a manual sorting process (sexing), the day-old males are killed right away. In order to stop this, the EU-funded InOvotive project develops a fast and automated solution to detect if an egg contains a male or female: this allows hatcheries to remove male eggs from incubators early in the breeding process and only hatch female layer chickens. The solution is based on a single biomarker, identified in 2016, that permits fast and high-throughput determination of the sex of an egg. Implementation of this technology will improve both resource efficiency and animal welfare in the poultry industry.


In Ovo is a company that develops products for the worldwide poultry industry that improve both resource efficiency and animal welfare. In Ovo is a spinoff from Leiden University and applies scientific knowledge to realise great solutions.

We have partnered with key stakeholders from the European poultry value chain and are on track to deliver our first product to the market: an automated sexing solution for fertilised chicken eggs. This will make the killing of 6.5 billion male chicks in the egg producing industry obsolete. As such, we will solve one of the largest and oldest problems for the poultry sector.

Our in ovo sexing solution is an automated, accurate and high-throughput biochemical screening. This high-tech solution enables hatcheries to remove male eggs from incubators early in the breeding process, allowing them to hatch only female layer chickens. The increase in animal welfare results in a value increase of layer chickens and the end-product: table eggs in the supermarket.

In 2016, we identified a single biomarker that allows for the fast, high-throughput, determination of the sex of an egg. Since 2017 we have been developing our current Alpha prototype, realising a throughput of 1,800 eggs per hour with 95% accuracy. Now, in this project, we will scale this prototype to realise the required throughput defined by the sector: 10,000 eggs per hour.

This will enable hatcheries to process their complete capacity using an in-line process. We believe that a technical innovation is only as good as the business case that is being built around it. Therefore, we not only develop clever technologies, but use our network to demonstrate our in ovo sexing solution to mobilise every stakeholder of this problem and ensure a quick market adoption.

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Net EU contribution
€ 2 464 205,63

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The organization defined itself as SME (small and medium-sized enterprise) at the time the Grant Agreement was signed.

West-Nederland Zuid-Holland Agglomeratie Leiden en Bollenstreek
Activity type
Private for-profit entities (excluding Higher or Secondary Education Establishments)
Total cost
€ 3 520 293,75