'Peace' Chickens Bred to Avoid Farm Cannibalism

'Kinder, Gentler Birds' don't turn peck-happy
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 26, 2010 3:56 AM CDT
'Peace' Chickens Bred to Avoid Farm Cannibalism
Two of Muir's "Kinder Gentler Birds" poke their heads out of cages at a Purdue University research farm.   (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Moves to boost the welfare of egg-laying hens by giving them more space will backfire unless the industry switches to more peaceful chickens, says a researcher who claims to have bred a gentler bird. Breeding to maximize output among the white leghorns that lay most of America's eggs has had the side effect of raising their territorial instincts to the point that ferocious attacks are common when they're moved to open pens, Purdue University scientist William Muir tells AP.

Muir calls his chickens "Kinder Gentler Birds," and says they're much more suited to the group living required in the growing number of states that are moving to ban battery-cage chicken farms. Muir says using his birds will eliminate the need for farmers to trim and blunt chicken beaks. He predicts that his birds will be as productive as their more aggressive cousins because they'll live longer and won't waste energy fighting.
(More animal rights stories.)

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