‘Rooster’ year highlights a lucrative occupationThis is the year of the rooster, according to the Chinese zodiac; thus it is special for people like Ha Gyeong-mi, 49, and her son Kang Ho-jun, 27, who are chicken sexers.
Chicken sexing is the technique by which the sex of chicks is determined by specialists, who also single out brood hens and chickens that will mature faster.
“In two to three seconds, the reproductive organs are [examined] to determine the sex,” Mr. Kang said, adding that the work requires experience and concentration. The procedure is done within 24 hours after a chick is hatched, he noted.
Professionals in the field can earn a lot of money; sex determination costs 5 cents per chick, and someone with 10 years’ experience generally makes between 500,000 won ($475) and 800,000 won a day.
Ms. Ha is a veteran with 30 years’ experience, and can determine the sex of 2,000 chicks per hour with an error rate close to zero.
She decided on her occupation as a senior in high school, after hearing that a lot of money could be made and there were opportunities for overseas study.
Now, she travels around Europe, New Zealand and South Africa for two to three months a year lecturing to others in the trade.
Mr. Kang took a leave from college and has been learning the job from his mother over the last three years.
Currently, he can determine the sex of 1,300 chicks per hour, and plans to open his own business soon.
Now they work for a poultry farm in Iksan, North Jeolla province, run by Halim, a chicken meat processor, and teach at a private institution in Nonsan, South Chungcheong province.
There are some 20 to 30 professional chicken sexers working in Korea at the moment.
After spending a year in training, they can make more than 2 million won per month domestically, and between 5 million won and 6 million won if they work abroad.
“As long as people consume chickens and eggs, chicken sexing work will continue to exist,” said Ms. Ha.
“I hope there is no epidemic like bird flu this year,” she added. “If chickens are happy, so are poultry farmers and those consuming their products.”
by Jang Dae-suk