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1621 views 47 commentsupdate:Apr 13, 2007

Featherless; the future or an unsaleable concept

There are many arguments that support the commercial breeding of featherless birds, but can these arguments overcome the emotional reaction on seeing the naked bird. Is the consumer ready? (Comments 43)

A few weeks ago Professor Avigdor Cahaner of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem's Department of Agriculture in Rehovot, Israel gave at a congress of the World Poultry Science Association in Bangkok a presentation on his many years of researching the advantages of featherless chickens.
Breeding featherless birds - less waste, less cost

If you close your eyes and switch off your emotions and listen to what he says about breeding birds without feathers you instantly think, here is the Egg of Columbus . No feathers, no waste, less processing costs and less water use during processing. Even more interesting is that these birds do not waste costly nutrients for developing useless feathers.
In addition these birds show a higher meat yield and better meat quality (higher water holding capacity and colour). Furthermore when featherless birds are held in hot climate zones, they suffer less from heat stress, show lower mortality rates and a better health status, making the concept even more convincing.
Less skin damage

Initial fears for skin damage proved to be unfounded, since stocking density trials proved that featherless bird show less skin damages than their feathered friends.
Greater genetic potential

Under hot conditions featherless broilers can fully express their genetic potential for rapid growth and high marketing body weight. Compared to standard commercial broilers, they require fewer days to reach marketing body weight of about 2.25 kg.
This would help poultry growers in hot climate zones, even those who grow them in open houses in which during day time temperatures easily can go over 35°C.
That these birds also can grow on low protein and low energy diets without any negative effect on their growth rate makes them even more attractive.
Is the market ready for featherless birds?

But as soon you open your eyes again the attractiveness of the featherless bird is completely gone. What an ugly bird. It is right than where your emotions are switched on again and all technical en economic advantages get a different dimension.
We all know that naked birds are a freak of nature, and have nothing to do with genetic engineering / modification , and have to look at them the same way we do at feathered birds.
The question however is: are we able to do that? And if so would the consumer understand it and allow us to make use of this bird commercially. Is it an issue for the industry or is it a solution for the poultry growers in the hot and poor regions of the globe?
Maybe we should give the bird a chance, and may be we should have a closer look at it so we may make use of this bird type in other regions of the world too where climate controlled houses may offer an excellent environment for these birds? Maybe this is the bird of the future?
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47 comments

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    Karen Davis, PhD

    It is not the naked chicken that is ugly. It is you people. You are ugly in ways that cannot even be formulated. And I suspect you don't know what I'm talking about. There is no end to what you will do to these birds, is there? Well, no use talking to you. You're pitiless. I don't know if you are freaks of nature but I do know that you are one of nature's worst expressions.

    Karen Davis, PhD, President
    United Poultry Concerns
    PO Box 150
    Machipongo, VA 23405
    (757) 678-7875
    www.upc-online.org


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    David Robinson

    Sounds logical, but for Free Range Producers, will the skin be tough when the bird is allowed to graze in the sunlight?
    I'd live to get rid of our Plucker & scalder..
    apf @ drobinson.com.au

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    Dr.N.Balaguru

    FANTASTIC EFFORT
    NO SENTIMENTS THAT TOO IN MEAT INDUSTRY.
    WISHING THIS THOUGHT SHOULD GET A FULL SHAPE VERY SOON.
    ADVANCE CONGRATS FROM INDIAN NON-VEGETERIANS.PROCESSED MEAT INDUSTRY IS THE ONLY FUTURE SO NO QUESTION OF BIRDS WITH FEATHERS OR NOT.GOAHEAD

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    Bolarinwa Ganiyu

    This breed/type of birds are meant for commercial broiler processor,so it's a welcome development.

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    sd

    why is it an issue? By the time the consumer sees the bird in a super market surely the feathers are removed anyway at present.

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    Peggy W. Larson, DVM, MS, JD

    You corporate people and researchers close your eyes and look at the process instead of the chicken. Unwanted male chicks killed inhumely. Hens crammed into batteries where they can barely move (I have seen these in Pennsylvania), broilers on medicated food to keep them alive, inhumane slaughter (I was a meat inspector), inhumane treatment of spent layers (including transport) and consumers getting a medicated product. While naked chickens may be cost-effective, these birds will be subjected to the same inhumane system. Change the system, not the birds.

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    Ellen Emerson

    There go the human monkeys playing god again. Chickens are born with feathers for a reason and just because they are inconvenient for us we have to make the make the poor chickens "better". I think small children would be better off if they were not so loud - perhaps that can be genetically engineered too? Where do you draw the line on messing with genetics?

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    verda young

    Please it is horrible to do what we do to these poor babies!!!Now, do not take all their dignity away think how we would feel if our hair nails and clothes were taken from us oh my !!!!

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    Laura Slitt

    A grotesque and diabolic initiative at best. The birds who remain in bondage, suffering already, no escape from the grips of the perversity of human palates, are terrorized enough! Using genetics to remove thier feathers is a pathological as it gets. An already cruel, brutal industry getting even more cruel...A nightmare, especially when the flesh of baby birds is part of what is driving western cultures into the hospitals. I suppose heart disease begins on a spiritual level, then becomes physical, as it is with all core spiritual pathologies that manifest finally in symtoms of disease. Seems the world is a symptom of the disease that the animals are commodities.
    Those who would joke about this have had their hearts carved out. Perhaps they will feel different when their loved ones perish from the virus humans are about to face from an industry that cares about profit, not human or animal health. What comes around goes around...
    How about genetically engineered humans to have hearts again...that work!

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    sandy

    Genetically engineering any creature for human convenience and the "bottom line" is UNNATURAL, playing "God" and just plain WRONG!!

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    Vicki Medlyn

    What would God say. We humans destroy everything and our compassion was the first to go. My vote is NO NO and NO. Proud vegeterian.

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    Pamela Rice

    I would be afraid to leave you people with my child. Perhaps you might find some flaw that your nazi genetics could cure. It is the likes of you that will do anything for a penny of profit margin. For shame. Is it any wonder that your ilk has brought our entire earth to the brink. Love animals. Be kind. Play fair. Such words are surely alien to you. Be off with you, to Pluto would be best, but perhaps not far enough.

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    Beth Aaron

    Yes Dr. Balaguru,
    This is what divides peoples and nations. Selling ones soul out to corporate agribusiness is contrary to the basic ethics of all major spiritual practices and true religious behavior. NO matter what "religion" one chooses, the mutilation and torture of animals spits in all the faces of them.
    Humanity has become as manufactured and freaky as the animals geneticists manipulate. In the end, it all comes back to haunt us either in the form of human disease, or human abuses of power over other humans. Rape comes in many shapes and sizes. Stealing feathers from helpless birds is in the realm of stealing sex from those who would not submit of their own choice. We are clearly a world that is, what it eats.

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    Lionel Friedberg, Emmy Award-winning documentary p

    You people are so smug, so heartless, so non-empathetic to the suffering of your victims that it would probably be pointless to post a comment. All I can say is that feathered or featherless, my heart breaks for your winged victims. You are so insensitive that you cannot see beyond the scientific quest to boost the profits of your cruel, sick and depraved industry.

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    Madonna Niles

    When my family and I learned what the poultry industry does to birds, we began following a vegan diet. We no longer contribute to an industry that treats living, sentient beings as commodities. We are a small family, but we will continue to do our part by not funding the industries that exist only through the exploitation of the most helpless. We are Christians; acceptance of our relious beliefs is an awakening experience. We cannot ignore the beauty or the suffering of the world; we cannot close our eyes to reality. I agree with Ms. Davis's comments. Birds exist to be birds; they do not exist for the purposes of human exploitation any more than one group of humans exist to be slaves to another or women exist to be subservient to men. I respectfully urge the abandonment of this distortion of birds; I strongly urge the adoption of a vegan diet.

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    Marie Warner

    This is a callous article and an even worse idea that shows no compassion for the animals being used, abused, and killed. Your writing resembles descriptions by Nazis of their experiments. Would you do this to a cat and a dog?

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    Muriel Garvey

    You are viewing birds purely as food (or even objects) not as creatures that have a right to an existence apart from being used and manipulated by humans. This thinking is exactly what has led us to factory farming, which includes the battery raising of chickens and a host of other cruel and inhumane practices. I grow more vegeterian by the year...

    Frankly, I am appalled by your idea of genetically creating a featherless bird - and not merely because it's grotesque.It could certainly create problems for these creatures even beyond ones which you could appreciate.

    The lack of reverence for life here is depressing, indeed.

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    Evelyn Haas

    People will do anythingmto other animals for their own selfish benefit. We should leave nature alone.

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    Christine Celella,RN.

    Have we learned nothing from the lessons of genetic “tampering”? The word “stupidity” is but the one word that comes to mind as I read this article! Do you think that Mother Nature made a mistake in giving chickens feathers? It is truly the narcissistic, egotistical human that thinks he can do a better job. Chickens without feathers are more susceptible to temperature variations as well as parasites, mosquitoes and sunburn (oh that’s right, they don’t see the sun). What will the geniuses develop to remedy those little inconveniences?
    Perhaps the only good in all this is the fact that males being unable to mate due to the inability to flap there wings will put an end to the atrocities committed in your business.
    Christine Celella,RN

    “ Ninety to ninety-seven percent of heart disease can be prevented by a vegetarian diet”
    - 1961, Journal of American Medical Association
    “ When we kill the animals to eat them, they end up killing us because their flesh, which contains cholesterol and saturated fat, was never intended for human beings.”
    - William C. Roberts, M.D., editor of The American Journal of Cardiology
    “In science, the authority embodied in the opinion of thousands is not worth the spark of reason in one man.”
    - Galileo
    “Deliberate cruelty to our defenseless and beautiful little cousins is surely one of the meanest and most detestable vices of which a human being can be guilty.”
    - William Ralph Inge

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    Nancy Hey

    This is a very bad idea. It is very cruel to the birds to breed them without feathers when nature intended for them to have feathers. I don't buy that claim that they have a "better health status". They would be more prone to sunburn and other damage to their skin from the elements. Feathers serve a purpose for protection of their skin and for regulating their body temperature.

    It is cruel for humans to manipulate these birds just to serve our own selfish purposes.

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    Jan Cejka, Ph.D.

    How far can man go to modify nature and its creatures? If there is a God somewhere up there, one day He will punish us for all we have done to His creation.

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    Carl

    Chickens didn't evolve to be money makers, with or without feathers.

    I think the idea is pathic.

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    DeeAnn Haniman

    I hate the thought that you would genetically change a chicken all because of the almighty dollar and the monetary profit you obtain. Let chickens live and grow naturally and not suffer. When they are killed for food (eventually), do it humanely.

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    Rachel Toaff-Rosenstein

    Now all we need is to genetically engineer birds that come pre-debeaked (or should I say "beak trimmed")and we'll be all set. While we're at it, maybe we'll get rid of the legs too(I suppose the birds will be more energy efficient if they can't waste energy walking around).

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    Patricia Neskavich

    People like you are the scourge of the earth. May God have mercy on your empty souls.You will reap what you sow.There is no justification for your wanton exploitation of these innocent,beautiful and helpless victims of human greed and cruelty.You have no conscience or empathy and I would pity you but you dont deserve it. You are an insult to God and humanity.

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    Patricia Panitz

    Is there nothing you won't do to animals in the name of profit? To reduce living, sentient beings to commodities is atrocious. People like you are the scum of the earth. You utterly lack a moral compass except in regard to your own kind.

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    Jodi Hesse

    To deny these birds yet one more thing that is natural to them...it's inconceivable. It's the only thing they have left that makes them feel even remotely like a chicken. I implore you to rethink your "science" and stop playing God. Put your energy and time into improving the lives of all the beautiful, suffering beings in your captivity. Because that's what chickens are; one of God's beautiful, wonderful creations that deserves our compassion & kindness.

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    Mary Finelli (B.S., Animal Science)

    It is an issue, Syd, because the birds are being caused to live without feathers, something which they have had throughout their evolution and which are important to their physical and psychological well-being. (They are not just decoration!!)

    The author writes: "If you close your eyes and switch off your emotions and listen to what he says about breeding birds without feathers you instantly think, here is the Egg of Columbus."
    It's an apt analogy if you consider what Columbus caused to happen to the native Americans.

    We need more than just science, we need ethics. Birds suffer without feathers. There is no justification for causing them that suffering or any other unnecessary suffering. Instead of looking for ways to further exploit chickens, the scientific community should employ its collective efforts to improve the birds' well-being -as consumers increasingly make known is important to them- and improve and promote genuinely humane and environmentally responsible food for people, namely, plant-based diets.

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    Angela Thomas

    Featherless chickens??You people are so sick in your (tiny) minds and (empty) hearts that it is almost beyond comprehension.I would starve to death before I would eat one of your victims.

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    Angela Thomas

    Dont be such cowards!Print ALL the negetive comments so others can see just how unpopular you folks in the chicken torturing/murdering industry really are.Maybe if more people knew the truth, they too would do the ethical thing and go Vegan!

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    Evalyn F. Segal, PhD

    Another brutal step in the industrialization of foods. I am not a vegetarian although I respect them. I eat only the flesh of humanely raised, free-ranging, antibiotics- and hormone-free animals. I hope - but I'm not sure - they are humanely slaughtered. I also eat wild-caught fish. Maybe one day I'll grow up and become a vegetarian if not a vegan. The brutality with which we treat animals is reflected in the increasing brutality with which we are treating each other. No to featherless birds, No to cloned animals, No to destroying the last of endangered species so superrich gourmands can eat "exotic" meats.

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    Carol McCaffrey

    Let us set aside cost and other effectiveness for compassion. Birds are sentient beings and need to be treated as such for the fullness of their lives. This is where our attention is needed, and our efforts. This is the future - compassionate business, compassionate consumers. Step up to the job. Lead the way. Use your innovation for the greater good. Not naked chickens, but an end to chickens suffering at our hands.

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    Angela Thomas

    I see you cretins did not choose to post my other comments. Cowards! I would like to make a suggestion here. Hold a little chicken in your hands. Stroke its soft feathers and look into its innocent little eyes.Feel its little heart beating against your hand. Hear its little peeping sounds of fear and need. Feel the warmth of its little body and maybe even kiss its dear little head. Look into those eyes again and open up your mind to what this little creature is trying to communicate to you. If you can do this and still eat chicken, then God help you, you are truly heartless and and devoid of any redeeming values as a human being. I dare you to post this and if you do not, well that says it all, doesn't it?

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    Staneley Victor

    Prima Facie, this development looks interesting. But consumers confidence has to be generated by educating them. Yes as some argue that, while the broilers reach the outlet shelves, they are all featherless. True, however the consumers make those conscious decisions of purchasing those chicken in the shelves, knowing fully well in their subconscious mind how those birds would have looked before they come to the outlet shelves.I have personally known many friends who have stopped eating the products out of one of the fast food chain, because of the rumors that was spread,which mentions genetically modified chicken was being used.Today's world ls going towards, free range and organic products. The cycle of consumer's preference is once again orienting towards natural... so let us beware of consumers mindset and their preferences...let us be fair to give them the product of their choice...

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    Kat Ranalletti

    I have an idea why don’t you breed a bird that is born without emotions, feelings, a heart, a mind and a nervous system. This way they won’t be able to endure the suffering placed upon them day after day from human brutality. Chickens as well as all other animals were placed upon this earth for themselves, their families and yes some also benefit other animals (NOT HUMANS) as a food source. Perhaps in hell, us humans will undergo they same cruelty we have executed towards animals. Remember the saying we learned in 1st grade, “treat others the way you wish to be treated.” I guess some of you forgot???

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    Eileen Garrett

    I think it's a terrible idea. I would never buy chicken again.

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    Tim Thomas

    Is there nothing you mad scientist won't stop at.Your cruel,ungodly treatment of animals is inexcuseable.You not only force billions of helpless animals to suffer needlessly,you are poisoning humans and the earth as well,all in the name of your God,Money. How can you sleep at night Professor Cahaner? and all the rest of you so called scientists? Stop this madness before its to late.You will reap what you sow.

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    Patricia Neskavich

    Karen Davis of UPC is the salt of the Earth, while you people in the poultry murdering industry are the filth.Your website is a scam with nothing but self serving propaganda to offer. One chicken dropping has more worth in the sight of God than the whole lot of you!

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    Jerry Coalgate

    The idea of a featherless chicken is abhorent to me. There has to be somewhere we draw a moral limit on what we do and/or allow to happen to animals. From my perspective, such things as this proposal are totally unacceptable.

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    Veganese

    “…This is what divides peoples an nations.” … We are clearly a world that is, what it eats.” Beth Aaron

    Well said, Beth. “Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are.” Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

    “…One of nature’s worst expressions.” Karen Davis

    And figments of one’s imagination! “A human being is part of the whole, called by us the ‘Universe’…He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separate from the rest—a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. … Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.” Albert Einstein

    As often as Herman had witnessed the slaughter of animals and fish, he always had the same thought: in their behavior toward creatures, all men are Nazis.” Isaac Bashevis Singer

    GO VEG!

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    Mahdi Ebrahimi

    in my country Iran we have any breeds of naked neck poultry that exist on tropical areas and these breeds are very resistant to haet stress and disease but in my opinion human dont allow to manipulate other species for illogical purpose. the feather of birds are not waste. for example recently scientist find new method for producing biodegredable plastics by feather. MEBRAHIMY111@YAHOO.COM (B.SC ANIMAL SCIENCE)

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    Richard J Zinger

    Interesting to see how fast the word spreads. You vegans and vegetarians know each other well and you know how to mobilize your verbal force. I can only grin about your comments. You don’t even know what you’re talking about. You are like parrots repeating words that you have heard from your leaders that are just as ignorant as you are. Where is your rationale? I would have some respect for you if you were able to discuss on content, but you all are so blind for reality that you can only express yourself in rude wordings. If you don’t know the difference between poultry breeding and genetic manipulation then there is no basis for discussion. If we want to feed the world now and in the future our children every option have to be investigated to achieve this goal. We won't succeed in this with organic or natural (whatever that means) methods of livestock breeding. Men was born omnivorous so a nice piece of meat every now and then is more than welcome.

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    Brenda Diamond

    To Richard Zinger:You may disparage the animal rights movement all you want but you better wake up and smell the coffee--We are here, We are right and WE WILL PREVAIL. Our numbers are growing and more and more folks are learning the truth and going vegan and fighting for the animals. Cruelty-free living is the wave of the future, and there is no stopping it, so get with the times and get educated and get a life,....

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    Tracy Jordan

    Humans are the cruelest and most evil animals on this planet! Have you people forgotten that these LIVING, BREATHING animals can feel PAIN!?!? They are not items on a shelf at Wal Mart, they are ALIVE! People will do anything to other animals for their own selfish benefit. You money making, greedy people who care NOTHING about the suffering of other animals make me sick! Oh well, I guess that's why there is a HELL!!!... what goes around comes back around!!! ALWAYS!! Good Luck With That!

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    Dove Skye

    The greatest thinkers in history deplored the killing and eating of animals of all kinds. Jesus Christ Himself was a vegetarian. Man was not created by God to be a carnivore. This is all an undeniable fact recorded many times over in historical records and the Holy Bible. Check your facts people!!

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    Sri Ravi

    What purpose is there to strip the bird of its feathers? Keep it as nature (or God) intended in it's original form. If it requires plucking before dying that is a minor incovenience. It's not as if major profits are being lost by having feathered birds, correct?

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    Michael M

    vegetarians and vegans, its easy to flap your gums, and say that we were never meant to be carnivores, but be thankfull we were, cause if it wasnt for the high protien content of our meat eating ancestors your brains would be much smaller. I study animal science, and welfare, this is a breakthrough, in hot areas it could potentially save these animals a lot of stress, then again maybe chickens just shouldnt be farmed in those regions, my opinion is strictly that, MINE, try and keep an open mind though guys!

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