TOKYO (Reuters) – Chicken sexers in Japan once enjoyed well-paid careers with overseas travel and job security but industry changes mean their expertise is not needed so widely and less people are seeking to join the profession.
Chicken sexing — or determining the sex of chickens — is critical to lower costs as farmers need to know the sex of newly hatched chicks to match them to their next destination. Females are kept to lay eggs while a few males are retained for meat.
Chicken sexers can manually sort poultry at a speed of 8,000 chicks per day and 99.7 percent accuracy by learning to identify the external appearance of the birds’ sexual organs that are located within their bodies.
Most experts in so-called “vent” or “cloaca” sexing come from Japan, where the method of distinguishing patterns of birds’ sexual organs at one day-old was invented in 1933 and helped revolutionise the poultry business, with Japanese sexers in demand internationally for their skills.
But as Japan’s youth migrates to cities, fewer people want the job.
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It is an idea that has attracted global interest – a robotic suit that helps elderly Japanese farmers – but it is one that has also highlighted the problems of an ageing rural population.
The exoskeleten can be strapped-on to farm workers and helps reduce the strain of more physically demanding tasks.
Most of Japan’s farmers are over the age of 60 and many people fear it is a profession that is completely dying out.
Presenter: Helene Hofman
Speaker: Takeo Ogawa, professor at Kumamoto Gakuen University and trustee of the Asian Aging Business Center; Masayoshi Honma, professor of Agricultural and Resource Economics at the University of Tokyo; Mika Iba, Network for a Safe and Secure Food Environment
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Manual labor is becoming more and more difficult for Japan’s aging farmers, prompting a Tokyo professor to devise a high-tech solution: mechanize the bodies of the farmers themselves.
Prof. Shigeki Toyama of Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology’s Graduate School of Engineering is close to perfecting a robot suit that could considerably reduce the physical burden of farmwork on elderly farmers.
People aged 65 and older are a key pillar of the agricultural work force, accounting for about 60 percent of the agricultural population in Japan. Development of the robot suit may come as welcome news to such elderly farmers.
While agricultural machines such as tractors and rice planters have reduced farmers’ physical burdens, many kinds of work still depend on manual labor, such as harvesting fruits and vegetables or pruning the branches of fruit-bearing trees.
Read the full story at Psyorg.com