chickens dust bathing
by Jennifer Mishler
Categories: Animals, Causes, Video.
Photo: Animal Place

Tonight, 1,150 hens will be flying across the country on a very special flight. They are among 3,000 hens rescued thanks to a team of sanctuaries and a generous donor.

According to the Sacramento Bee, the rescue began when an egg farmer contacted Animal Place in Grass Valley, CA, asking if they would like to take the animals to their sanctuary. Animal Place did not release the name of the farm, but they often takes in hens surrendered by farms through their Rescue Ranch Program. The hens were soon to be killed using carbon monoxide gas, a common practice in the egg industry when hens are no longer able to lay eggs. Egg-laying hens are typically not as large as the chickens raised for meat, known as “broilers,” and are considered too lean to produce enough meat.

The hens are adjusting after years spent in battery cages which, as Animal Place describes, is a cruel existence. “The 2-yr-old white leghorns are from a battery cage egg farm where they lived in cages so small they couldn’t stretch their wings. When they were 8-days-old, the hens had a portion of their beaks cut off without pain relief to prevent fighting in cages,” the organization writes. “For more than two years, these hens have only known the small space of a cage. Now free they will touch the grass, feel the sun, and stretch their wings for the first time,” adds Marji Beach, Education Director for Animal Place. The sanctuary reports that the hens, who have been receiving around-the-clock care, had “severely overgrown toe nails” and all of them had been debeaked. In the photo above, you can see them experiencing their very first dust baths!

Tonight, the 1,150 hens heading to other sanctuaries will be flown from California all the way to New York, thanks to an anonymous donor who has generously paid the $50,000 cost of the flight. Jamie London, Animal Place’s Animal Care Director will be flying with the hens, and says “These hens have been through so much. And like dogs saved from puppy mills, these hens have been liberated from a life of misery and will enjoy the rest of their lives in peace.” Their plane takes off tonight, and they will arrive at Hayward Executive Airport tomorrow morning. Kim Sturla, Animal Place Executive Director, says this is the first time that adult birds have been flown across the United States.

In a photo posted just minutes ago on their Facebook page, Animal Place said the hens are already being placed on the plane! “Loading up!!!! So much media coverage and so many great volunteers and staff helping!!!,” they wrote.

Among the nine organizations taking the birds in are Farm Sanctuary, Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary, Catskill Animal Sanctuary, Happy Trails Farm Animal Sanctuary, United Poultry Concerns, and Veganism is the Next Evolution (VINE). The remaining birds will stay at Animal Place and will eventually be available for adoption.

Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary is taking in 200 of the hens, and founder Jenny Brown says they’re anxiously awaiting for their arrival. “We’re ready. We’ve got perches and nest boxes for them, lots of grass, even a small area where they can wander into woods. They will be able to spread their wings and feel the sunshine for the first time in their lives. It is a joy and honor and privilege for us to give these chickens a second chance.”

Watch Animal Place’s amazing video of the hens’ first time walking free of their cages!

About Jennifer Mishler

Jennifer Mishler is a writer, and a vegan and animal activist. When she's not writing, you can often find her volunteering or advocating for animal, environmental and human rights causes. Along with writing for Ecorazzi, she has contributed writing for nonprofits like Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, and enjoys blogging. She resides in the Washington, DC area (and loves all the vegan food it has to offer). Follow Jennifer on Twitter: @jennygonevegan.

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  • Neal Van Milligen

    I think I can fix you up with about 10,000 chickens per day to rescue.