Scientists have 18 years ago bred a controversial featherless chicken which they say is faster growing.
The birds, created at the Hebrew University in Israel, will not need to be plucked, saving money in processing plants.
While the researcher behind the breed concede that they would not be suitable for cooler countries, he says that in hot climates, the birds would fare better.
However, opponents of the move say that the changes do not benefit the animals, and are in fact likely to make their lives worse.
Professor Avigdor Cahaner, who led the project, told the BBC: “This is not a genetically modified chicken - it comes from a natural breed whose characteristics have been known for 50 years.
“I am just transferring that to fast growing broiler chickens. It’s a normal chicken except for the fact it has no feathers.”
He said that broiler chickens were fed intensively to achieve fast growth, which meant they also tended to produce a lot of body heat; and this meant that particularly in hotter countries, they “suffer tremendously”.
The featherless birds would tend to be leaner, and perhaps grow faster, he said, which would improve the quality of the meat and save producers money.
Removing the plucking process would also reduce pollution, he said. The process, he claimed, produced large quantities of water contaminated with feathers and fat.
However, animal welfare groups warned that feathers were important to help protect the birds from parasites - and that the featherless chickens were likely to suffer sunburn.
In addition, male chickens might not be able to mate, they argued. -BBC