New Test on Feather Helps Determine Bird Sex
Scientists in Germany are reporting development of test that can answer one of the most frustrating questions in the animal kingdom: "Is that bird a boy or a girl".
Their study, a potential boon to poultry farmers and bird breeders, is scheduled for the Feb. 15 issue of ACS´ Analytical Chemistry, a semi-monthly journal.
Juergen Popp and colleagues point out that the boy-girl question can be difficult to answer in birds that lack distinctive, gender-related plumage.
Since birds lack external genital organs, sexing a bird typically involves endoscopic examination of the animal´s gonads under general anesthesia or specific molecular biological methods. Since these methods are expensive, time-consuming, and stressful for the bird, scientists long have sought a quick, minimal-invasive sexing alternative.
In the new study, researchers describe such a test, which involves analysis of tissue pulp from birds´ feathers using a highly sensitive lab instrument. The method, called ultraviolet-resonance Raman (UVRR) spectroscopy, took less than a minute, and identified the birds´ sex with 95 percent accuracy, the scientists say.
The different DNA content in male and female chicken allows for gender differentiation via its characteristic Raman fingerprint.