• zeebleoop / stranger flickr


Researchers say decades of breeding to make the white leghorn hens that lay most of the nation's eggs more productive have also boosted the birds' territorial instincts, making them prone to pecking attacks so fierce they're often called "cannibalism."

Scientists and egg producers warn that deadly skirmishes that start with feather-plucking and turn into bloody frenzies when a bird's pecking breaks a flockmate's skin will increase if those same aggressive hens are moved from small cages with five to 10 birds to open pens that can hold dozens.

Now they're trying to breed "more congenial, peaceful chickens" who can live in the "more humane" bigger cages without pecking each other to death.

People, what have we wrought?