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DNA Sex Determination

Gender analysis in avian species is relatively new, and many methods are employed. There have always been questions as to the accuracy. Due to the fact that the given genome is extremely variable, sex determination can be quite difficult and confusing. With the additional possibility of technical errors, some results may be questionable. In one recent instance, a competing laboratory's analysis of 12 submitted samples resulted in 50% accuracy when verified by surgical endoscopy.

Late last year, we undertook the task of evaluating numerous methods of gender testing to find the most accurate. We were determined to improve upon all existing methods and to develop the most reliable possible. Ten different primers and dozens of methods were selected for comparison. Ultimately, new specific primers and methodologies were designed and employed along with the latest in equipment and technology. Our new method performed beyond expectations, resulting in unsurpassed accuracy in gender determination. Our method eliminates most common problems and technical errors associates with sex determination.

By altering several steps, we have the ability to determine gender from an oral (saliva) swab. Although the method differs from blood, the results are equally accurate. Utilizing saliva swabs allows blood samples to be used for other testing or can be used when vein puncture is not required.

To submit samples for testing, follow these guidelines:

  • Blood: Submit two free flowing drops of whole blood in a heparinized tube.
  • Saliva Swab: Using a standard culturette, simply place swab on area back of the tongue (saliva). Gently roll the culturette one full turn in each direction and place swab back into carrier tube. Do not place into gel-type medium as it tends to "pull" the sample from the swab.
  • Note: Ensure birds to be gender tested have been isolated from all other birds preferably overnight, but at least for a minimum of six (6) hours. Birds feeding each other, sharing food and water bowls, or just "mouthing" each other will share DNA, compromising the results.