309. Breeding chickens


Neil was now all of thirteen years. He’d been interested in poultry ever since, aged four, he’d stayed at his Aunt Philomena’s. A hen had hatched chickens. He came home and began his own flock.

There were all sorts of different breeds of chicken. Some roosters , they said, were gentle characters. Others were brusque. Others noisy. Others protective of their hens, and savage.

He’d been taught genetics at school. There were recessive genes, and dominant genes. Neil thought he would put the information to some use. He began to selectively breed. He bred for beauty and size. They had to be striking colours. They had to be big. Colours for looks; size for the table.

Quickly, over a few generations, Neil bred them bigger. And bigger. The cockerels grew violent. Have you seen their spurs? They could maim. They could injure. Some said they could kill a fully-grown man.

They certainly killed a thirteen year old boy.

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