An Israeli geneticist, Avigdor Cahaner, created the world’s first featherless chicken at the genetics faculty at the Rehovot Agronomy Institute near Tel Aviv, Israel. The bare-skinned bird was created by cross breeding a broiler with a species that has a featherless neck. The idea behind the development of this naked bird is that it will create a more ‘convenient’ and energy efficient chicken which can live in warm countries where feathered chickens don’t do well and cooling systems are too expensive to be commonly affordable. And of course, the bird doesn’t require plucking, saving additional money in processing plants.
Opponents of the chicken say that the changes do not benefit the animals, and are in fact likely to make their lives worse. Males have been unable to mate because they cannot flap their wings for balance, and this also effects the females. Because they are featherless, chickens of both sexes are more susceptible to parasites, skin diseases, mosquito attacks, temperature variations and sunburn.
Professor Avigdor Cahaner, defended the bird by saying, “This is not a genetically modified chicken – it comes from a natural breed whose characteristics have been known for 50 years. I am just transferring that to fast growing broiler chickens. It’s a normal chicken except for the fact it has no feathers.” The scientists also hope the new breed will grow faster because it won’t need to use energy to grow feathers and that will would also cause the chicken itself to grow larger.
News about the featherless chicken first broke out in 2002, and since then nothing new has been heard. The lack of updates in the media about the special chicken indicates that Mr Cahaner’s creation was never breed commercially.