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News Article

Featherless Chicken Keeps Cool

A featherless chicken has been produced by conventional breeding techniques to aid poultry production in hot climates.

Researchers at the Hebrew University, Israel, have produced a featherless chicken which they claim could be useful for poultry production in hot climates and cause less pollution.

The chicken was produced by conventional breeding techniques using a mutation that was already present in chicken stocks, the naked neck gene. Avigdor Cahaner, a geneticist working on the project is cited as saying, "Chickens consume a lot of energy in order to grow rapidly. But in the process they generate a lot of heat and have to get rid of it or they die. That's why the growth rate of broiler (chickens) is significantly reduced in hot seasons or hot countries and that is why poultry meat is expensive in these countries.''

Featherless chickens may be able to divert more energy into growth rather than efforts to keep cool. Farmers in hot climates may also be able to save on the costs of ventilation. Not having to pluck the chickens after slaughter could also reduce the pollution produced at feathering plants. Feathers are often an unwanted by product of poultry production and can be difficult to dispose of. According to Cahaner, the bird could be an example of more sustainable agriculture. He is reported to have 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's ultimate aim is to transfer the featherless trait to modern fast-growing broiler chickens and study its effect on growth rate, welfare and meat characteristics.

The featherless fowl was mistakenly reported as being genetically modified (GM) in several UK press sites.

Contact: Professor Avidgor Cahaner, Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel.
Tel: +972 (8) 9481 214
Fax: +972 (8) 9468 265

Article details

  • Date
  • 21 May 2002
  • Subject(s)
  • Awaiting Classification (3)