Sunday, March 11, 2007

Featherless Chickens - where will the mad scientists go next?

The creation of featherless chickens must seem like a dream come true for KFC and all involved in the huge broiler chicken industry. Apparently after years of research, scientists are just about ready to launch the featherless chicken onto the market.
Here's part of a report from the World Poultry magazine:
'In 1954, the American researchers Abbott and Asmundson found several featherless
mutants among New Hampshire chicks that hatched at the University of California
at Davis. The mutation, named “Scaleless”, has been bred and maintained since then in
Davis and in several other research institutions.
The Scaleless line, like its New Hampshire origin, is, according to Prof. Cahaner “a good egg-producer but with a small body and not much of a meal.”
Prof. Cahaner started 12 years ago to pursue his interest in the “naked neck” and “frizzle” genes that reduce the feather coverage of chickens, and a few years ago he came across the idea of
using the scaleless mutant to breed a completely featherless broiler. In an interview
with World Poultry, he said that the idea was to backcross the small scaleless chickens
into a large, fast-growing broiler line in order to develop, “featherless broiler chickens
which grow as fast as the commercial feathered-covered broilers that reached the
marketing weight of 2-2,5 kg in just six weeks.” He noted that intensive breeding of
fast-growing broilers started some 60 years ago. “Twenty years ago broilers reached the
marketing weight at about 9 weeks. Today, broilers reach that stage after six weeks,
which has an enormous economic advantage
The featherless broilers created by Prof. Cahaner have apparently been bred using conventional crosses between scaleless chickens and commercial broilers, followed by backcrossing and selective breeding. “We did not employ any genetic engineering procedures in breeding the featherless broiler. The skin of the naked chicken is a normal skin, but
with no feather follicles and no subcutaneous fat”, Cahaner noted. The Israeli geneticist
added that in the late 1970s, featherless broilers were bred and evaluated at
the University of Connecticut but, he explained, “these broilers did not grow as fast
as commercial broilers do today and for them overheating had not yet emerged as a
serious problem, hence they were not considered useful at that time,” as he was quoted
in The New York Times
Don't know about you, but it looks like a crock to me!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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