Quick sex test for Living Coasts birds
Published: 30th Jun 2014Zoo keepers at Living Coasts in Torquay are using a hi-tech DNA test to discover the sex of newborn chicks more quickly.
The test, using cells from inside the shell of a newly hatched egg, has been developed by a company called Avian Biotech of Truro, Cornwall.
Senior Living Coasts keeper Amy Fitzgerald explained: “You can use feathers to do the test, but you have to wait until the birds have their full plumage - for penguins this is normally about 12 weeks. All we have to do now is send off pieces of dry eggshell. DNA is extracted from the vascular material lining the eggshell membrane. It only takes about a week.”
Living Coasts, Torquay’s coastal zoo and aquarium, is home to hundreds of birds.
“Most people still use feathers. It’s important to know the sex of birds for studbook purposes – females are always good for breeding potential, but on the other hand we do need males too - especially if they are from good strong parents.”