Chickens have feathers for a reason, or at least that’s how nature intended it. Nine years after the first information on featherless chickens became known, the attention of the public and world media has once again focused on this experiment designed for one purpose–to create a commercial chicken under the assumption of economic and environmental advantages.
The Israeli scientist, Professor Avigdor Cahaner of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Faculty of Agriculture, Rehovot, listed
expected benefits of the featherless broilers, especially recognised for hot climate countries.
Now, after genetic modifications and many trials, Cahaner says that all the expected benefits had been proved. He is convinced that there
is a clear economic advantage of growing featherless birds in hot and humid regions.
Cahaner claims the chickens are more efficient, faster growing, heat resistant which will ultimately benefit the poultry industry. It’s necessary to understand how scientists such Cahaner think to better understand their motives in genetic experimentation.
Cahaner explains that in hot conditions the feathers of standard chickens prevent efficient dissipation of excess or internally-produced heat. Consequently reducing their actual growth rate, meat yield and meat quality. Also, many die before marketing. “Currently, these
negative consequences can be countered only by expensive energy-dependent cooling and ventilation systems that increase costs and reduce competitiveness of broiler production in hot climates.”
Indeed, featherless chickens do not need any artificial cooling or ventilation, and may improved marketability, however when did scientists stop questioning whether they should instead of persisting with whether they could.
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 degrees 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.