delware environmental institute

TIME: High temperatures are associated with sicker chickens. Researchers are using selective breeding to come up with a solution

May was Earth’s hottest month on record — and as the planet gets warmer, chickens are struggling to adapt. Their body temperatures rise, which leads to higher mortality rates and an increased risk of disease that may threaten global poultry supply in the next decades.

Enter geneticist Carl Schmidt and his team from the University of Delaware, who believe that reducing a chicken’s feather count — making it look bald, basically — will cool it down and reduce health risks.

“We’re going to be seeing heat waves that are both hotter and longer,” Schmidt told Modern Farmer. “And we need to learn how to mitigate the effect of climate change on animals — we need to figure out how to help them adapt to it.”

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