Veterinary Laboratory Toronto
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HealthGene offers:

  • FREE sample collection kits;
  • FAST results: 95% of results reported in 2-3 business days after receiving samples;
  • LOW price: only $19.00 for any sample such as blood cards, eggshells or feathers (plus taxes for Canadian clients only).
  • Certificate for each DNA sexing test result.
  • Please note! We recommend submitting blood samples as feathers and eggshells do not guarantee a result! If your feathers or eggshell samples are not viable, you will be asked to resubmit using blood samples.

Avian DNA Sexing

DNA sexing has quickly risen to become the method of choice for determining the sex of avian monomorphic species. With accuracy rates greater then 99.9 %, it is no surprise that this method of sexing has become number one with bird owners and aviculturalists worldwide. Over the years, HealthGene Laboratory has conducted literally thousands of DNA based bird sexing tests for an array of clients, ranging from individual bird owners and breeders to entire zoo populations.

You may be wondering what makes DNA based avian sexing so accurate. The answer to this question can be found in the technology underling this approach. Advances in molecular diagnostics have brought a technique known as PCR to the forefront of DNA diagnostics. Using PCR, differences in the DNA of male and female birds can be amplified and detected in the laboratory. Here’s how it works. DNA based avian sexing utilizes the fact that male and female birds have different genes or chromosomes, much like mammals. The only difference is that the female bird (carrying a ZW chromosome pair) determines the sex of the offspring, since the male (carrying a ZZ chromosome pair) can only contribute a ‘Z’ chromosome (this is just the opposite of what occurs in humans). Using PCR in the laboratory, a region of DNA that differs in size between the Z and W chromosomes is amplified. Thus, this method yields one PCR product for males and two PCR products for females, making visual detection in the laboratory easy.

HealthGene laboratory offers bird owners two options with regards to submitting samples for sexing. These options include feather sexing or blood sexing. It is a common misconception that blood samples are more accurate then feather samples for determining sex. In reality, blood sexing and feather sexing are 100% identical with regards to accuracy. Since both procedures ultimately result in isolating and analyzing DNA, the source of the DNA (whether it’s from blood or feather cells) has no impact on the final results of this test. Instructions for submitting either blood or feather samples are included on the last page of this newsletter. Also, HealthGene provides free sample collection kits, complete with instructions, for those interested in submitting blood samples. Although HealthGene accepts feather and blood samples, blood samples are preferred since they ensure a result. Again, there is no difference in the accuracy of the final result; however, feather samples may have to be resubmitted if not enough cells are present for analysis. Alternatively, eggshells may be used to determine sex if the inner membrane is still present and intact. Turnaround times for this particular test range from 1-2 business days.

Sample Collection Instructions

Blood Collection Instructions

Feather Collection Instructions