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
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
Less skin damage
fears for skin damage proved to be unfounded, since stocking density trials
proved that featherless bird show less skin damages than their feathered
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
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 /
, 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?