Friday, March 5, 2010

Happy Hens are Happy

This is one of 45 hens who arrived at the sanctuary a week ago. They are from a cage-free egg laying operation that had about 10,000 hens. These ladies were going to be killed at the young age of 2 (they can live another 10-15 years). They have been debeaked.

The look a bit different than your traditional egg-layer. They are commercial brown layers (most are white hens called white Leghorns). Commercial brown layers are bred to be more docile with a softer temperament. They also do not produce quite so many eggs (one of the side effects of producing a lot of eggs is a high metabolism and a lot of neurotic behaviors). These are some of the sweetest hens I've ever met. They'll sit on your lap, are very curious, and some even tolerate scratches.

Hen from cage free operation Pondering climbing to newer heights

After a quarantine, we introduced 10 of the hens to the main poultry enclosure (the others we plan on adopting out).

This is the very first time they've seen sunlight and grass! They were totally overwhelmed but had a total blast.

Brown hen making sure grass is edible Brown hen exploring Brown hen in grass


pibble said...

These photos are just beautiful! I can't imagine seeing sunlight for the very first time. Poor things. Well, it's high time!

Nichole said...

Can a de-beaked hen still eat properly? What is the purpose of de-beaking?

Seems kinda like declawing a cat. Lame and painful.

Unknown said...

@Pibble: Thanks! They are really loving all their newfound freedom - it's been a joy to watch!

@Nichole: They can still eat. We provide deep dishes of food so they can get enough. Some of them have phantom limb pain, but most seem to deal with it pretty well (it's hard to read chickens' pain levels...)

Beak trimming is performed to prevent cannibalism and too much pecking. Housing animals with a serious social structure in high density leads to really abnormal behaviors (like cannibalism). Given enough space and appropriate social settings, beak trimming is not necessary.

PoochesForPeace said...

You do such wonderfun work! They look so pretty, especially with that bright green grass. I haven't seen bright green grass in Ohio for a while :( Stupid winter.

admin said...

While I don't see anything wrong with slaughtering and eating chickens, what's done to them before hand is horrible. These hens are so lucky to get to live out the rest of their lives at the sanctuary.

This is also why I've stopped buying 'organic' or 'free range' eggs from the store. The standards are still too lax, and I've got a farmer down the street whose hens I've actually met.