Scientists at the University of
Delaware are mapping the
genes of these “naked neck”
chickens. The lack of feathers
on the birds’ necks help them
keep cool. Researchers want to breed
such traits into industrially farmed
poultry to make flocks more
resistant to climate change.
(University of Delaware)
3 May 2014. Los Ageles Times. University of Delaware researcher Carl Schmidt and his colleagues are trying to map the genetic code of bizarre-looking African naked-neck chickens to see if their ability to withstand heat can be bred into flocks of U.S. broilers.
When a team of researchers from the University of Delaware traveled to Africa two years ago to search for exemplary chickens, they weren’t looking for plump thighs or delicious eggs. They were seeking out birds that could survive a hotter planet.
The researchers were in the vanguard of food scientists, backed by millions of dollars from the federal government, racing to develop new breeds of farm animals that can stand up to the hazards of global warming.
Some climate-change activists dismiss the work, which is just getting
underway, as a distraction and a concession to industrial-style agriculture, which they blame for compounding the world’s environmental problems. Those leading the experiments, however, say new, heat-resistant breeds of farm animals will be essential to feeding the world as climate change takes hold.
The experiments reflect a continued shift in the federal government’s response to climate change. With efforts to reduce carbon emissions lagging behind what most scientists believe will be needed to forestall further warming, the government increasingly is looking for ways to protect key industries from the impact.