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Abstract

Gender determination in incubated eggs (in ovo) has the potential to substitute the highly discussed practice of culling male layer chicks. The aim of this study is to investigate the effect pictures have on peoples’ preferences towards in ovo sexing at different stages of embryonic development as an alternative to chick culling. For this purpose, an online survey was conducted with a representative sample of 482 respondents in Germany. A within-subject design with two choice experiments was used to investigate the influence pictures have on respondents’ preferences and willingness to pay (WTP). The first choice experiment contained plain text only; the second contained also pictures of a chick or the incubated eggs at the corresponding stages of development. Findings reveal that in ovo gender determination at each proposed day of incubation (days 1, 4 and 9) was preferred to chick culling. In ovo screening on days 1 and 4 was significantly preferred to day 9. This preference for early gender determination increased significantly as a consequence to the provision of pictures. Results furthermore reveal that a high error rate of gender determination or the lack of a meaningful utilization of incubated eggs can decrease approval for in ovo gender determination to an extent, where no positive WTP remains. Findings of this study are useful for stakeholders in poultry production when considering the implementation of in ovo gender determination as a morally admissible substitute to chick culling.

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