Shoppers in Germany are the first in the world to have a chance to buy what the Guardian calls "no-kill" eggs. The eggs result from a new process that aims to eliminate the culling of male chicks—an industrywide practice in which billions of chicks are gassed or sent through shredders alive because they're deemed useless. The breakthrough comes from a German company called Seleggt, where scientists developed a system to determine whether eggs under incubation have male or female chicks inside before they hatch. If female, the eggs are allowed to continue incubating. Male eggs get discarded, as opposed to slaughtering the chicks after they hatch, reports the Telegraph. Male chicks get such treatment because they don't grow as big or as fast as females, plus they don't lay eggs, explains Smithsonian.
"If you can determine the sex of a hatching egg, you can entirely dispense with the culling of live male chicks," says Dr. Ludger Breloh of Seleggt, per the Guardian. The process involves using a laser beam to burn a tiny hole in the egg, in order for a bit of fluid to be tested for a particular hormone. Researchers say it takes one second per egg and adds only a few cents to the price of a carton. The first batch of eggs from hens raised under the process are now on sale at a single supermarket chain in Berlin under the "Respeggt" brand, though the plan is to keep increasing the scale, eventually to beyond the country. (In the US, egg producers aim to end the culling practice by 2020.)