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Jewish Journal

Cluck Naked

by Mike Levy

May 30, 2002 | 8:00 pm

Geneticist Avigdor Cahaner of Hebrew University is breeding featherless chickens, according to a report by Reuters.

Cahaner crossed a standard boiler chicken with a smaller chicken that is partly bald due to a naturally occurring "naked neck" gene. The resulting birds are less fatty than standard chickens. And they are naked.

Featherless chickens would be less expensive to raise in hot climates like the Middle East, where expensive cooling systems are needed to prevent feathered fowl from overheating. Energy and water used in large-scale feather-plucking plants would also be saved.

"It's called sustainable agriculture," Cahaner told Reuters, "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 [it]."

The Hebrew University agriculture program has several dozen of the bright red chickens, and Cahaner believes they could be ready for commercial development within two years.

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