Naked Chicks: Cheap and Healthful

May 22, 2002

Scientists Create Pre-plucked Chicken

A new breed of "naked" chicken created by scientists in the search for tastier, healthier poultry has angered animal rights campaigners.

Despite its bizarre appearance, the red-skinned broiler could become a supermarket success because it is designed to grow faster and contain less fat than normal chickens. It will also be cheaper to produce since its lack of feathers means there is no need to pluck it before it hits the shelves.

The new, genetically modified breed was reared by Israeli genetics expert Avigdor Cahaner, of the Rehovot Institute near Tel Aviv. He said it would grow faster in hot weather because it was not prone to over-heating like normal chickens, whose growth rate drops when they get too warm.

He said: "That's why the growth rate of broilers is significantly lower in hot seasons and why poultry meat is expensive in hot countries."

Mr Cahaner claims the birds produce leaner meat because no feathers means less subcutaneous fat, and farming them would be less damaging to the environment because poultry farmers would not have to use ventilation to prevent chickens overheating.

He 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."

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