Yesterday, Animal Place rescued 1,500 hens from a battery cage farm raising hens for egg production. Rescuing 1,500 hens seems like a drop in the bucket, but these hens are ambassadors for their sisters. They make people aware of what's behind the eggs one buys in nice egg cartons at the store or farmer's market. When she is about 1.5 years old, a hen is discarded because she doesn't make economical sense anymore for the farmer. Her egg production is "only" 200 eggs a year instead of 300. And what about the guys? For every female chick, a male chick hatches. He has even a shorter life (a day or two) and often ends up in poultry meal. Rescuing 1,500 hens is also a wonderful experience. I was at the rescue ranch when the hens arrived, and it was quite emotional to unload them from the vans. It was also quite messy - lots of broken eggs mixed with even more chicken poop! I was great seeing them getting out of the transport crates and touching the soil for the first time. Some went immediately for a dust bath. Some decided it was time to establish the new pecking order. Some just tried to find a quiet spot to lay. The staff took care of the injured ones. One had to be euthanized, but most were fine. A few had bleeding feet because they have very long nails (can't use them in their tiny cages at the farm!) and they got caught between the crates in the transport, but this is fixable. I stayed until dusk to help with the declumping. These hens are not use to big spaces, so they pile up at night with the sad consequence of crushing the ones below. As they settled down for the night and started piling up, we moved the ones on top of the pile onto the floor next to each other, and we did that until everyone was sleeping. It's really weird to witness.
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