Decades of industrial breeding to make white leghorn hens lay more eggs have also unintentionally heightened the birds' territorial and self-preservation instincts, making "them prone to pecking attacks so fierce" that it's often called "cannibalism," reports the AP. And in a cruel twist, moving the bloodthirsty chickens from the "battery cages" that hold five to ten chickens to open pens that hold dozens of chickens as advocated by animal welfare activists makes them even more violent.
Which is unfortunate, because the trend right now is to abolish the tiny cages (seven states have passed laws that will eventually limit or completely ban different types). So what's the solution? Science! Or, more specifically, breeding a gentler chicken, using the techniques of "an influential Purdue University scientist whose breeding method produces more congenial, peaceful chickens by focusing on the birds best suited for life in groups."