Seven teenagers who beheaded two chickens because they were curious whether the birds would run around with their heads cut off will soon learn a lot more about the birds.

A judge ordered the five young men and two young women -- ages 17 to 19 -- to clean chicken coops and read a book about animals' feelings as part of their sentence.

In September 2003, the teenagers went to a Wal-Mart and bought machetes, kitchen knives and a hatchet, then drove to a chicken farm and stole eight chickens. They beheaded two chickens, videotaping the carnage before the homeowner caught them.

The chickens "sort of ran a very short distance, and they sort of flopped over," said defense attorney Garland Moore, who attributed the teenagers' behavior to youthful curiosity.

The teenagers were convicted of animal cruelty charges.

Judge John R. Turner on Friday instructed them to read a book about animal cruelty and turn in a report on it. They were also ordered to perform community service hours cleaning chicken houses.

Moore criticized the state for initially charging the teenagers with the deaths of eight chickens, not two, on the premise the other six died because of the stress of witnessing the beheadings.