Featherless Chicken Facts Essay

By Emma Young

Featherless chickens could be the future of mass poultry farming in warmer countries, says an Israeli geneticist who has created a bare-skinned “prototype”.

The new chicken would be lower in calories, faster-growing, environmentally friendly, and more likely to survive in warmer conditions, claims Avigdor Cahaner of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He created his red-skinned chicken by selectively crossing a breed with a naturally bare neck with a regular broiler chicken.

But critics say past experience with feather-free chickens resulting from random genetic mutation shows they suffer more than normal birds. Males have been unable to mate, because they cannot flap their wings, and “naked” chickens of both sexes are more susceptible to parasites, mosquito attacks and sunburn.

“Featherless birds would also be very susceptible to any temperature variations – especially as young birds,” says Tom Acamovic, of the Scottish Agricultural College in Ayr.

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The chicken is “disgusting”, says Joyce D’Silva of Compassion in World Farming. “It’s a prime example of sick science and the suggestion that it would be an improvement for developing countries is obscene.”

“Factory farming is such an inappropriate technology for developing countries because it uses scarce resources like water, electricity and grain that could be used for human consumption, to produce meat that only the middle classes can afford.”

“Ugly beast”

Broiler chickens have been bred to gain weight rapidly. But in the process they generate a lot of heat. Farmed chickens are kept at about 20°C – the optimum temperature for weight gain. But in warm countries, expensive air conditioning is necessary to keep to this temperature – and this cannot be afforded by poorer farmers, Cahaner says.

The chicken is “an ugly little beast”, says Acamovic. “But there are obvious potential benefits of not having feathers. Nutrients wouldn’t go into producing feathers, and there would be no feathers to get rid of at the end.”

The chicken’s lack of feathers would make it quicker to process and more environmentally friendly, says Cahaner. “Feathers are a waste. The chickens are using feed to produce something that has to be dumped and the farmers have to waste electricity to overcome the fact,” he said. Plucking also requires the use of large amounts of water, he says.

The cross-bred bird is currently smaller than regular broilers. Cahaner says further breeding should help increase its height.

Israeli researcher creates featherless chicken

Planet Ark (www.planetark.org) reports that Avigdor Cahaner, from Israel's Hebrew University, has created a featherless chicken.




The Israeli featherless chicken,
a funny bird

Cahaner's red-skinned chicken looks a little ridiculous, but the lack of feathers keeps the birds cooler and leaner than their feathered cousins - useful in hot countries.

"(Boiler chickens) consume a lot of energy in order to grow rapidly but in the process they generate a lot of heat and they have to get rid of it otherwise their internal body temperature will go too high and they will die," he told Reuters this week. "That's why the growth rate of boiler (chickens) is significantly reduced in hot seasons or hot countries and that is why the poultry meat is expensive in these countries."

By keeping the chickens feather-free, the birds would direct their energy to growing larger rather than keeping cool.

I copy the full article below.





Israeli's naked chicken plan may make feathers fly
Planet Ark - May 22, 2002
http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/
newsid/16075/story.htm

JERUSALEM - Chickens could fly even faster to the dinner table if an Israeli geneticist gets his way and develops the featherless fowl.

Avigdor Cahaner, from Israel's Hebrew University, has crossbred a small, bare-skinned bird with a regular boiler chicken as part of a research project to develop succulent, low fat poultry that is environmentally friendly. Cahaner's red-skinned chicken looks a little ridiculous, but the lack of feathers keeps the birds cooler and leaner than their feathered cousins - useful in hot countries.

The hybrids, the geneticist believes, could revolutionise the chicken business.

"(Boiler chickens) consume a lot of energy in order to grow rapidly but in the process they generate a lot of heat and they have to get rid of it otherwise their internal body temperature will go too high and they will die," he told Reuters this week.

"That's why the growth rate of boiler (chickens) is significantly reduced in hot seasons or hot countries and that is why the poultry meat is expensive in these countries."

By keeping the chickens feather-free, the birds would direct their energy to growing larger rather than keeping cool.

Cahaner's naked birds would also save poultry farmers large amounts of money on ventilation to prevent their chickens from overheating. The lack of feathers would conserve large quantities of water used to pluck chickens at feathering plants.

"This water is full of feathers and drainage of fat from the carcasses. We believe that this part of the pollution can be reduced and feather plants can be completely eliminated," Cahaner said.

LESS WASTE

The featherless fowl would be well suited to poor countries where farmers can ill afford to lose birds to overheating.

"It's called sustainable agriculture," Cahaner said. "Feathers are a waste, the chickens are using feed to produce something that has to be dumped and the farmers have to waste electricity to overcome the fact."

Cahaner has already produced several dozen featherless birds but hopes to perfect the still diminutive fowl so they stand as tall as the normal boiler chickens that are the mainstay of the poultry industry.

"My objective is to transfer this (featherless) trait to modern fast-growing boiler chickens and learn and study the effects on growth rate, other aspects of welfare and its development and of course of the meat characteristic," he said.

But featherless chickens would not be suitable everywhere, Cahaner concedes. They might catch cold in chillier climates.

"It would harm them if we forced these chickens to be outside in cold weather...This is not a chicken for the open fields of England in the winter time," he said.

Story by Megan Goldin
REUTERS NEWS SERVICE

Posted by David Melle
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This is the ugliest thing EVER! eww..

Posted by: Cupid Girl at July 9, 2002 05:40 PM


Its a cool chicken and just proceed .I thank God who gave you jews the brains to invent and may your research come to pass and may it be a success.
thanx, cheerio.

Posted by: goso112 at January 30, 2004 06:50 AM


Ahh... that takes all the fun outta chickens :( they took thier feathers....

Posted by: Hiro at July 8, 2004 07:51 AM


This is very interesting indeed. So much for that chicken-pluckin' job I applied for last week.

Posted by: Matt at August 20, 2004 07:01 AM


has anyone thought of the feather stuffed pillow industry??! lol

Posted by: Erick at December 11, 2008 01:59 PM


THIS IS A GREAT SCIENTIFIC BREAKTHROUGH WE HOPE THE TASTE OF IT BEING A CHICKEN WILL BE SUBSTAINED

Posted by: Dr. CYRIL OTOIKHIAN at April 15, 2010 11:40 AM


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