The chicken is commonly regarded to be a cowardly sort of creature, however a bizarre new story from France suggests this might not be the case.
Chickens at a school farm in the north-west of France are believed to have joined forces and killed a juvenile fox, attacking the animal with their beaks.
The small fox had reportedly used an automatic hatch door to enter the coop – which contained approximately 3,000 chickens – on the night of Wednesday 6 March, at Le Gros-Chêne High School in Pontivy.
The automatic door shut behind the fox – which was believed to be about five to six months of age – leaving it trapped inside the coop.
The body of the fox was discovered in a corner of the coop the following day, with puncture wounds from beaks noticed on its neck. There were reportedly no fatalities among the chickens that night.
As reported by Ouest France, farm manager, Pascal Daniel, said:
The fox had to return during the night, by one of the access gates of the breeding of laying hens which gives on 2.4 ha of pasture which is reserved for them.
It is a juvenile of 5 or 6 months, about 60 cm long. He did not seem sick and in any case, he did not have scabies.
Daniel, who is head of farming at agricultural school Gros-Chêne, explained:
The hens can arrive en masse and the fox, surprised, could panic in front of the number. The hens have been there since July, so for more than seven months and have probably learned to defend themselves,
A fox hidden in the nests has already been discovered, a year and a half ago!
According to Daniel, foxes are not the only predators the chickens have had to face:
We pay a tribute to the buzzards that attack the hens every week, but I think that there too, they face. Pigeons are also victims and we find regularly regularly devoured.
Speaking with Ouest France, a Brittany based living naturalist expressed surprise at this unusual occurrence:
There may be a group effect, but also other reasons: the fox was young so inexperienced. It could already be weakened, even injured, and we know that chickens go easily on a weak animal
Ban fox hunting with chickens I say! Hideous sport!
(Someone had to say it, may as well be me). pic.twitter.com/1FKTNv6Dei
— Trucker Bill (@Trucker_Bill_44) March 13, 2019
The chicken coop is located on a free-range organic farm. The coop itself is left open throughout the day, with the hens spending most of their time outdoors.
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Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.