Up to 3,000 hens ganged up on a fox that broke into their pen and pecked it death on a French school farm, it is believed.
Students at agricultural school Le Gros Chêne in Brittany found the fox's mutilated body lying in the corner of the pen.
The five-acre farm is home to up to 6,000 free-range chickens. The fox entered a coop containing 3,000 hens, which is kept open during the day.
“There, in the corner, we found this dead fox,” Pascal Daniel, the head of farming at the school, told the Agence France-Presse news agency.
“There was a herd instinct and they attacked him with their beaks.”
He added: “It was a juvenile of five or six months, about 60cm long. He did not seem sick and in any case, he did not have scabies.”
Regional paper France Oest quoted local wildlife experts who said the fox's death was 'surprising'.
They said: “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 will confront a weak animal with no vigour.”