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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.
I copy the full article below.
Israeli's naked chicken plan may make feathers fly
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.
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
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(According to digits.com)