Chick Sexers Make Bank!
What is a chick sexer?
It was an occupation I’d never even heard of until my father decided to demonstrate at the table last Thanksgiving. They are the professionals that determine the sex of newly hatched chicks. Hatcheries need to separate out the males from the females because females go on the egg laying tract, and the males…well, from a hatchery POV, it’s cheaper to kill ‘em off than to raise them.
Apparently these professionals make (or made) bank. According to this WSJ article, they would earn $500/day. (The sad reality is that now they make half that.) There are whole schools in Japan–Korea, too–where people are trained to determine the sex of a chick. Chick sexers would get hired by hatcheries that would sponsor them, put them up, and hand them their six-figure salaries. Hatcheries are willing to shell up (forgive the pun) for good chick sexers because it saves them a ton of money in rearing the male chicks until the differences in sex become more visibly apparent a few weeks after they hatch. The margin of error of chick sexers for the best chick sexers–from Japan (and, my father added, Korea) is about 2%. Domestic averages seem to be double that. Which is why hatcheries are willing to “import” the better chick sexers.
How does a chick sexer sex a chick? The methods are not at all for the squeamish. You run a thumb into the chick’s anus, feel and squeeze around (I cannot give you the particulars, not being a chick sexer myself), before tossing it into its appropriate bin. The record seems to be 100 chicks in 3 minutes. As my father began to demonstrate–thankfully on imaginary chicks–I suddenly became keenly aware of the Thanksgiving turkey carcass beside him, its rear end pointing in his direction. My insides churned. My father, completely oblivious, plucked and tossed one chick after the other–whoosh! whoosh! whoosh! from one side of him to the next, a more rapid-fire version of how Mr. Rogers puts on his shoes.
This is a typical family meal for the Park family; mixing money talk with the (literally) savory and the unsavory.