A rescued hen is held in gentle hands.
Animal Place is a sanctuary located in Grass Valley California which gives shelter and care to rescued farmed animals. Rescue Ranch, their sister property in Vacaville California, recently received 1500 hens from an egg production facility and saved them from the usual fate of slaughter. About 15 volunteers showed up on a sunny Saturday morning to help with hen health checks. When the hens arrive at Rescue Ranch they are able for the first time to touch the earth, experience the warm sunshine and move about freely as normal chickens. Each has spent the entire portion of their short lives in dirty, crowded and terrifying conditions… until now.
Volunteers begin to quietly round up the hens.
On this day we were assisting with a phase two health check. During phase one, when the hens first arrive, they are individually checked for injuries and illness. Volunteers trim their toenails which often grow unusually long due to confinement. Some of the birds have broken bones, lacerations and injuries related to brutal handling and transport. Most birds have visible feather loss and are crawling with mites from their inability to move around naturally and dust bathe. All the hens have amputated beaks, a painful procedure which impairs their ability to eat and drink. There are no male chickens present because all of them were separated from the females at the hatchery and killed as day-old chicks. The hens are emotionally fragile from their trauma and physically weak from the constant egg laying which saps their bodies of much needed calcium and nutrients.
Hens receive a dose of medication from the wonderful Rescue Ranch staff and volunteers.
We assisted with phase two by gently collecting the hens and passing them off to Rescue Ranch staff for medication. Then the birds were released into the barnyard where they could enjoy socializing with their sisters out under the shady trees. Afterwards all of us volunteers celebrated by cleaning the barns!
The hens enjoy hanging out at the feeders.
Once the hens are strong enough they are put up for adoption by Rescue Ranch and also through some of the local humane societies. If you can provide a safe forever home to some of these girls (which they truly deserve after all they have been through!) please contact Animal Place through henrescuers.org. I also recommend volunteering which is a deeply rewarding experience. To hold a bird who has never been treated gently and feel her body relax trustfully in your arms is a sweet gift indeed.
-Singing Luna 8/25/2015
Seed for thought: Consider how our consumer choices impact the lives of animals!
This YouTube video is from a hen rescue in Canada. The rescuers were so devoted it appears that they prepared their living room (!) to keep the hens in during their recovery. Please Note: although the video shows chickens being carried by their feet this is not a recommended way to carry birds.
Annabella arrived at Roostersong Sanctuary in December 2008 with her four sisters.
Annabella was one of five factory farm hens adopted from the Humane Society in December of 2008. When I first brought the girls home to Roostersong Sanctuary they were a bedraggled bunch with patches of bare skin, scabbed combs and missing tails. I could not imagine what they must have been through before their rescue. Although they received good veterinary care before I adopted them they continued to have health issues related to their stressful early lives and one by one I lost four to reproductive organ failure (a common ailment with factory raised hens). The fifth hen, Annabella seemed determined to survive and she thrived with a vibrancy that was truly inspiring. Annabella loved to run and fly and I enjoyed witnessing her exuberance (she had a strange skipping motion when she ran due to her years of living crammed into a battery cage). It took a few years before she was comfortable being touched and I was so honored when she finally allowed me to hold her and stroke her feathers! She lived long enough to become friends with my recent factory rescue hens and in the evening they would be roosting together side by side in the coop. I have known and lost many birds over the years but this one did not make me sad. She had five extra years under our care and she lived them to the fullest. During her time with us I watched her blossom and gain trust. She taught me a lot about the resilience of the spirit and of finding the courage to rise above the limitations that are initially given us.
Annabella, fully feathered, enjoying the spring grass in 2009.
-Singing Luna 1/12/2013
Seed for thought: What is your earliest memory of feeling compassion toward someone?
Hens at the Marin Humane Society enjoy shelter, sunshine and gossip around the water cooler.
New residents of Roostersong Sanctuary are four hens adopted from the Marin Humane Society. These four girls originally came from a group of 3,000 birds that were rescued from a battery cage egg farm. Volunteers from Animal Place saved them from slaughter in spring of 2013 and they were brought to Rescue Ranch in Vacaville to recover. Along with Rescue Ranch several Humane Societies in California helped with the responsibility of finding homes for the hens. Some were even airlifted to sanctuaries on the east coast thanks to a kind-hearted and generous donor who paid for their airfare!
The hens Denise, Cynthia, Carole, and Addie (honoring four little girls who were killed on September 15th in a church bombing fifty years ago) came home to Roostersong Sanctuary in September. All four were lively and healthy thanks to the excellent care they received at Rescue Ranch and Marin Humane Society. It will take longer to heal the emotional scars caused by over-crowding and confinement. Any sudden movements will send them into a collective panic so I have learned to move in slow motion when I’m around them. One of them leaves me a beautiful white egg every day even though I have told them all that they are retired now and never have to lay another egg! The boys at Roostersong are quite smitten with the new residents (more about that later). It feels like a drop in the bucket to be able to give forever homes to only four out of 3,000 but at least for these lucky girls they will know how good life can really be.
Having arrived at their new forever home at Roostersong Sanctuary, Denise, Cynthia, Carole and Addie venture out to explore.
The hens free range and make friends with the other residents of the sanctuary.
For more information about adopting rescued hens go to:
See the documentary about the Four Little Girls the hens were named after:
-Singing Luna 11/28/2013
Seed for Thought: Have you ever taken an action which saved an animal’s life?