It breaks my heart to think of any animal being abused or hurt in any way. I mean it actually does affect me deeply on an emotional level. I can’t bear it. I only wish I was made of tougher stuff because recently I’ve been reading about various cruelties inflicted on chickens and it’s enough to give anyone nightmares. How in the world have we allowed (and continue to allow) these things to happen?
I’ll apologise in advance – I don’t want to be one of those activists thrusting confronting images in front of my friends on Facebook. That in itself is cruel and makes people shut down. I know myself if I see an article or photograph depicting cruelty to an animal I scroll right past it quickly – not because I don’t care – because I can’t bear it!
Why do I mention cruelty to chickens? Well, I’m in the midst of some research, preparing the way for some chickens of our own. We both decided we wanted to give a home to some ex-battery hens – hens that had been saved from their cages and just needed a loving home to relax without the pressure of having to lay hundreds of eggs.
And boy oh boy, since reading about rescue hens I’ve learned a great deal.
I’d never heard of de-beaking (it makes me cringe just to think of it). I didn’t know all the male chickens were killed at birth and I certainly didn’t realise that hens are slaughtered by the time they reach the ripe old age of 18 months. I love eggs and prefer chicken to red meat but I am horrified I have been a party to these cruelties.
Many of us buy Organic or Free Range eggs in the belief that these eggs are somehow ‘better’ because the hens are not in cages, but the truth is even those hens are de-beaked and still don’t have the best lives. I had naively thought of them running around a farm quite happily but the truth is far from the fairy tale I convinced myself of.
If we do commit to rescuing a few ex-battery hens, these girls are going to need healing and real care. It won’t be just a case of ‘ah don’t worry you don’t need to lay eggs anymore’ – many of them are sick because their little bodies have been through so much.
Once we’ve given a home to a few of these ladies and nursed them back to health, we might get a couple of birds to lay (at their leisure – if they felt so inclined). I’m excited about learning something new, though I felt it was important to face some of the realities we’ll be encountering. We owe it to our feathered friends. I just hope I’m up to the job.