As chicken keeping continues to grow in America’s backyards, people are slowly beginning to wonder just what the quality of life is for egg laying chickens raised in the commercial setting. Many hens raised for eggs are sent to slaughter at 18 months of age. According to farmers’ their height of egg laying is over. As soon as these hens are whisked away for processing, new chicks are brought in and so it goes. Many commercially raised hens spend their lives in very tiny cages with many other hens. Some have their beaks trimmed to deal with feather pecking. Their combs are pale and their quality of life is dismal. But there is hope.
|Photo Credit: Debeaked battery hen|
Many agencies across the globe and some perhaps even in your own backyard are giving battery hens a chance on life. Some are rescued by farm sanctuaries. Others are rescued by loving chicken keepers like yourselves. Once rescued, some of these hens see and feel sunshine on their feathers for the first time. They take their first dust baths and finally have room to spread their wings and scratch in the dirt. Overtime, they “learn” what it is truly like to be a chicken. Their feather regrow and they find compassion in people and their time in the factory becomes a distant memory.
|Photo Credit: Typical battery cages with hens|
Adopting ex-battery hens is very popular in the UK and Australia and is growing in the United States. Often, if you live near an egg farm, you can reach out to them directly and offer to take a few hens.
|Photo Credit Rescued ladies|
This little hen named Little Miss Sunshine is taking Australia by storm. She is one amazing ex-battery hen.
About the author: Melissa Caughey is a backyard chicken keeper, beekeeper, gardener, and cook who pens the award winning blog, Tilly’s Nest. She lives on Cape Cod, Massachusetts with her family of four and her Miniature Schnauzer. She regularly writes for HGTV Gardens, Community Chickens, Grit magazine, and contributes to Country Living Magazine. Her blog was recently named one of Better Homes and Gardens Top 10 Gardening Blogs. Melissa is currently working on a backyard chicken book with Storey Publishing to be released this upcoming year.