Purdue researchers have developed peaceful chickens to reduce 'cannibalism' in factory farm pens. That sound like a good thing, but there may be a small joker in the deck. You see:
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."
What's that mean for "peaceful chickens"?
It means they likely produce less, which means fewer eggs per bird per year and, presumably, a higher price for eggs.
Will that matter? Probably not.
Eggs are so cheap now, that a few pennies -- or even 50 cents more a carton -- will not change how many eggs I consume, or what I pay for anything at the store or in a restaurant.
But will more peaceful chickens improve the lot of egg-producing poultry? Probably not. Egg-producing chickens will still be crowded, will still live in darkened sheds, and will still end up dead and in dog food after their egg-laying life is over..
I have made my peace with it. Nature is red in tooth and claw, and anyone who thinks otherwise should check the bottom of bird nests this time of year. Nothing gets out of this world alive, and the best any of us can hope for is ready food, ready water, a roof over our head, and a little companionship. Put in those simple terms, most factory chickens are doing far better than a billion people on earth.