LONDON, March 4 (UPI) -- The British Poultry Council said yearly salaries of nearly $60,000 are failing to attract applicants for a specialized position -- chick sexing.
The council said there wasn't a single new applicant last year for vent chick sexing, which involves looking at a baby chicken's backside to determine its gender. But the government rejected a plea to have the job listed as experiencing a chronic shortage of staff.
Officials said being listed would have allowed the industry to recruit from other countries, including South Korea, where chick sexing is a high-status job.
"Chick sexers examine the vent -- the anus -- of a chick, its genitalia, and by a very minuscule difference in the size and shape, then determine whether the bird is male or female," Andrew Large, chief executive of the British Poultry Council, told The Times of London. "Poultry breeders need to be able to separate the chicks into those that will lay eggs and those that will be roosters."
"It is proving difficult to get people to stay in the job," Large said. "It takes three years to train someone so they develop the sensitivity and dexterity to reliably sex the bird, and a lot of people don't want to spend that amount of time training."
Large said there are an estimated 100 to 150 chick sexers in the country currently, but vacancies are going unfilled despite offered salaries of nearly $60,000 per year.
"I think the problem is the job itself. You are spending hours every day staring at the backside of a chick. That is not seen as being attractive," he said. "In southeast Asia, a chick sexer is a high-status job. In the U.K., it is more likely to be the butt of humor."