Big Pens Breed Chicken 'Cannibalism' On Egg Farms

By: Associated Press Email
By: Associated Press Email

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Monday, April 26, 2010

Scientists and egg producers say more chickens could die if farmers move egg-laying hens from tiny cages with 10 or fewer birds to open pens than can hold dozens.

The Humane Society of the United States has pushed for laws banning battery cages in which birds are packed tightly together.

But egg producers say that creates another problem: The white leghorn hens that lay most of the nation's eggs are territorial and prone to pecking attacks so fierce they're called "cannibalism." The fights increase in big groups.

To reduce them, a Purdue University researcher has developed a breeding method that produces more peaceful chickens. William Muir says he believes his hens would live longer and lay more eggs because they waste less energy fighting.

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