Over 4,000 hens were saved in a most spectacular rescue effort. Six of those lucky girls now reside on our farm. When I heard a local rescue group would be bringing 125 of these hens to San Luis Obispo county to retire, I jumped at the chance to adopt them. The hens were stabilized for three weeks, then brought to our farm when they were out of danger.
Four of the hens moved to our side of the property and two of the hens retired to my mom's coop on the other side of the property. These hens have lived lives filled with neglect and abuse. As chicks, the hens have the tips of their beaks cut off. This is so they will not peck the other three to five hens with whom they share a small cage. Leghorn chickens lay around 300 white eggs a year, which is why they are usually chosen for mass egg production. They live all of their lives in cages, never having the chance to scratch the earth or chase a bug. You can see how long the hen's nails have gotten because she has never been able to scratch in the dirt.
We moved the girls in with the quail at first so the other hens could meet them without being able to hurt them. The hens each laid an egg the first day they moved in. It amazed me these hens were on the brink of death and are already laying eggs.
Pearl collected the first batch of eggs. She was proud of the chickens!
The hens have integrated with the rest of our flock and are living the lives of queens. It is interesting to watch their behavior. At first they would only lay their eggs on the ground. Now two of the hens have learned how to use the nesting area. They won't roost up with the rest of the chickens, rather they nest on the ground in the corner. They love to make little nests, scratch around and stretch their wings. To say I adore these girls in an understatement. They have become more brazen over the past few weeks. When all of the chickens free range, they carefully sneak out of the hen house and scratch around the door. They bask in the sunlight.
Pearl and Oliver love feeding them scratch.
I was feeling slightly smug at first about how I don't buy eggs from the store. Pearl and I went out to breakfast the next morning and I ordered huevos rancheros. After devouring my eggs, it dawned on me I had no idea if I was eating factory farmed eggs. I asked the server who told me they were from the local university. I know chickens are not free-ranging at the university. I have decided to try and stop eating eggs if I can't tell where they are laid. Would it be rude of me to bring my own eggs into a restaurant? I may have to turn into these people:
If you want to help one of these chickens you can sponsor an animal at Harvest Home Animal Sanctuary or give up eating factory-farmed eggs!