Rescue hens: 5 special benefits December 19, 2014

This is the time of year chickenistas all begin dreaming about birds and breeds they’ll be adding to the flock for next year. It’s also the time of year to celebrate kindness and charity. A good way to combine the two would be to adopt rescue hens. Consider adopting battery farm survivors next year. Not only will you be helping the rescue hens, there are five special benefits to YOU.

baby chick in hand

You won’t be getting fancy breed baby chicks if you rescue hens; chances are they’ll be adult White Leghorns, Sex Links, or Rhode Island Reds.

When I was a child and my family adopted animals, they were always from the pound—or rescued from the street. Even now, aside from my flock (nearly all of which were hatched here at my home), all the animals we have are rescues.

Our cat Spider was rescued as a stray kitten from the street, where he was being poked with sticks by a group of children.

Our cat Spooky showed up at our farm a few years ago, skin and bones. What remained of his fur was full of burrs and briars, and he even had a broken tooth.

We adopted our dog Reggie through a rescue organization, Cavalier Rescue USA, after he had been crated most of his life .

As those of you who follow our blog probably already know, conventional egg production in factory farms involves keeping hens caged for their entire lives, in an area slightly smaller than the size of a sheet of notebook paper. The birds can’t stretch their wings, have nowhere to nest privately for laying, cannot roost to sleep, dust bathe, forage or lay in the sun—all natural instincts of chickens that are frustrated by the unnatural and cruel conditions. Next year, consider rescue hens. Give some of these factory farm survivors a good home.

5 benefits of adopting rescue hens

1. Science says acts of kindness, such as adopting a rescue animal, make you healthier 

2. Altruism makes you happier, studies show, so adopting rescue hens can quite literally bring you joy

3. You may be less socially anxious, since helping others alleviates social anxiety

4. You get all the normal benefits of keeping chickens: eggs, personality, compost, etc. 

5. You will help your children to reap all these benefits in their own lives. When you model that humanity and compassion for your children, you teach them that acts of grace and kindness are worthwhile, and they experience the joy of helping first hand. You chart a course for your children to grow up and become people who appreciate the worth of virtue, and lead them to the personal joy and satisfaction that world view brings.

Do you want your children to be happy throughout their lives? Teach them to be compassionate and kind to others, and to animals. So, if you haven’t started planning your flock for next year, don’t forget, especially at this time of year, to consider adopting rescue hens.

rescue hens: young girl with hen

You don’t have to rescue hens from battery farms to see these benefits. Special needs hens—any animal needing extra care and compassion–can help teach compassion and kindness.

There are few organizations in this country that facilitate the rescue of battery hens, but in California, Animal Place is one. In most places in the US, though, to rescue battery hens, you will have to contact a local egg producer and convince them to let you adopt some of their “old” hens. (“Old in the context usually means only a year and a half old or so, even though the natural lifespan of a hen is five times longer or more.)

Rescue hens will require extra care, it’s true. In that way, they’re similar to dogs that have been rescued from puppy mills, and may have some issues to deal with. Your rescue hens will probably be fearful and unused to human contact at first. They are likely to never have walked on grass or seen the sun, so they may be slow to forage, slow even to walk around outside under an open sky. They may not know what to do with a nest, or a roost—at least initially.

Additionally, there are certainly medical concerns. They will almost invariably be lacking feathers, and may be suffering from parasites like lice or mites. They will also be prone to respiratory ailments, since the air in factory farms is typically so full of ammonia. If you have other chickens already, be sure to quarantine your rescue hens for at least four weeks; it wouldn’t hurt to have a vet evaluate them, either. You want to make sure that your kind heart doesn’t bring any issues into your existing flock.

But the rewards are great—not only for your animals, but for yourself and your family.

Yizhen January 5th, 2015

I’m a huge fan of both Animal Place and My Pet Chicken!

[…] only to discover you have to get rid of your own beloved flock?  And incidentally, if you have other pets in addition to chickens (such as a dog), this is a great job, too. You won’t have to worry about any separation anxiety, or rushing […]

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