“I want to stand as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all the kinds of things you can't see from the center.” Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Rescue Chickens

While awaiting the hatch of our Araucana chicken eggs (Tues!), we arranged to adopt 2 former egg-battery hens. A couple north of Auckland operate "the Sanctuary", where they buy 12 month old hens that have stopped producing eggs because they need to molt their feathers. They recover once the feathers re-grow, but the battery farms don't want to feed them during this time- usually they slaughter them. The hens from the Sanctuary get a second chance, and it's like being reborn because their environment is totally different. While I lend absolutely no support to animal liberation groups, I do think the battery egg farms are cruel and the practice shold be ended. See for yourself, here. Though this video is from California, battery farming a world-wide practice. One look at our rescue hens and you know these birds suffered. If you click on the photo you can enlarge it. One way to minimize the impact of battery farming is to raise awareness, which I support. Also, though they cost a bit more, you can buy cage-free eggs. Our personal solution is to keep our own hens in our yard. They're fairly easy to care for, are entertaining, and provide fresher eggs than you could buy at the grocery.
As you can see in the photos, Thelma and Louise look pretty sad- bare skin, burned-off beak ends, bare feathers. The beak will never regrow, but with time the feathers will. Also with time, they can learn to scratch and peck for food in the yard. Yes this natural behavior has been supressed so long, this behavior and others, like perching, have to be re-learned. I threw a cooked cob of corn and some spinach into the yard, and they haven't eaten it. They are so accustomed to eating a food pellet, they don't realize there is a variety of food to eat. They had been at the Sanctuary about 4 weeks before we got them. Within 24 hours of moving them to their new home, one of them laid a huge egg, and the next day we got 2 eggs!

Here's a photo of their new home, which Darin built using nearly all recycled wood left at our house (under it). Comming soon (we hope), pictures of baby chicks!