Thursday, February 24, 2011

Chickens, Chickens and More Chickens

The sanctuary has a neat program that works directly with egg farmers to take "spent" hens slated for slaughter and place them into new homes. Yesterday, we pulled 357 hens from a small egg farm. They will be adopted out into companion homes. Egg - laying hens are slaughtered at the young age of 2, even though they can live another 6-10 years, dependent on breed. Mass producing eggs causes enormous health problems for the birds, including osteoporosis from over-laying, ovarian cancer from over-laying, and if they are from caged operations, muscle atrophy, difficulties preening/eating from beak trimming/de-beaking, and behavioral problems from forced confinement.

These hens are called red stars. They are a sex-linked breed. Female chicks are one color, male chicks a different color (they are then killed). They are two and looking for some new digs to enjoy.

Hens from egg farm

We transport them via traditional poultry crates. They are stackable and end up being safer than dog crates.
Hens getting out of crates

Hen at Rescue Ranch

These hens,although from a very small farm, have been beak trimmed. It was done with a laser and only the very, very tips of the beaks have been cut off. It can still cause pain to the birds, but less likely to do so than traditional cauterizing blades.

It was a long day - 14 hours in total - but so worth it to save these hens from slaughter. They will get to enjoy the life I hope for any dog or cat: safe, comfortable, as free from suffering as possible (including unnecessary death), and loved. We've heard back from previous adopters and they just adore the hens adopted, naming them, bonding with them, and learning chickens can be as engaging as dogs and cats.

If you live in California and are interested in backyard chickens as companions, you can fill out an adoption form here.

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