This month we were lucky enough to welcome some very special birds to our homestead (bringing our total to 11). These laying hens have survived horrific abuse and near death before they were rescued from the egg factory waste pit where they had been left to die. They were nursed back to health and once they were well enough to move on they came to us for their forever home.
The very kind gentleman who rescues these birds described the situation to me in a Facebook message that broke my heart…
“They have come from a chicken ‘barn’ where they live packed up in cages. There is a conveyor belt running under the wire floor of the cages to remove all the waste and droppings. Occasionally the cages break apart and the chickens fall down onto the belt and get carried along to outside the building where they get buried in toxic waste. We have a friend who works in there and when he finds any alive he brings them to us. Usually they have no feathers sometimes broken wings or legs. We try to nurture them back to good health. This can take us weeks or months.”
Our volunteers Xavi and Jenrico worked hard renovating the old chicken house and giving it a new and improved high security fence to keep these girls extra safe. Eventually we will free-range them in the afternoons but not yet. We want to make sure they’re ready for the outside first as some of them still bear the scars of their former captivity.
For now we’re giving them lots of high protein treats, garden weeds for scratching, and diatomaceous earth for them to take regular dust baths and improve their skin.
They seem very bold and intelligent birds, they already know my voice and have identified that food arrives with me and comes through the front door. When I arrive in the morning they’re all waiting impatiently. It might sound basic but some birds take months before they “learn the door”!
I’m very pleased to welcome them to the farm but I’m also just really very sorry that egg factories exist. When you see the birds that produce your eggs everyday you become heavily invested in their welfare but when it’s just a product on a shelf in the supermarket you become disconnected from the reality of that bird’s life- and that’s why these abuses are allowed to continue.