Japanese Students Create Eggless Chick-Producing Egg

Technology could be used to save birds in damaged shells and end the killing of chick embryos for school research.

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The efforts of a group of Japanese high schoolers have gone viral after a video showed them incubating and growing a live baby chick without an egg. The video depicts the students cracking open a store-bought egg into a piece of plastic wrap held over a small plastic cup. The egg is artificially inseminated, covered, and incubated in a sterile environment. In days, blood vessels, a beating heart, and limbs begin to develop, and by the video’s end, a live chick is seen scurrying around the classroom. While “shell-less culture system,” first developed in 2014, is decidedly un-vegan—complete with conventionally bought eggs and harvested chicken semen—the cruelty-free and animal-welfare implications are significant. Science website Science Alert reports that the development could allow birds to be saved when their eggs have been damaged, provide options for in-vitro fertilization, and for growing vulnerable and threatened species inside surrogate eggs. Classrooms studying development and gestation could have the option to employ this shell-less technique to examine a chicken develop in real-time, producing a live chick at the end that could be re-housed—a much less cruel alternative to sourcing multiple killed chicken embryos in different stages. Of course, technology-based, animal-free alternatives remain the most humane choice, such as the computer simulations employed by the University of Virginia and The Medical College of Washington in lieu of live animals.