Rescuing chickens

The studio construction is poised to start – just awaiting a builder’s permit which of course was delayed by some entirely unnecessary administrivia. In the meantime, I have been thinking a lot about chickens.

photo 1

My parents’s next door neighbour, Sabine, recently adopted three battery rescue chickens. She has a tiny little courtyard of a garden in Clifton Hill, but manages to cultivate the most amazing range of fruit and vegetables, mostly in pots. She also has a beehive. And now, three chickens.

Battery chickens are culled when they are 12 months old, as their laying productivity starts to drop afterwards (not by much, they still usually have four or five steady laying years left in them… or more). They are ground up and sold for pet food or fertiliser.

But $5 can get you one of these chickens yourself (the $5 goes mostly to the running costs for the rescue people, plus worming and vaccinations for the chickens). At first, the chickens look pretty sorry and naked. In the battery cages, the chickens pull out each other’s feathers (due to overcrowding and boredom). Their beaks are clipped. They don’t know how to walk around (their cages are all angled so the poo rolls away) or scratch, or eat food scraps. They have never been outside.

Within days, Sabine’s chickens were scratching around. They learned to go into their coop at night. They started laying the first week she got them. Their feathers are starting to grow back. They are the most docile, relaxed, happy chickens I’ve ever seen.

There is some debate about rehoming ex-battery chickens. Some say that by rehoming them, we’re just allowing the cycle of cruelty to continue. But battery farmers don’t make their money from selling 1 year old chickens. They make their money from selling battery farmed eggs. So the best way to combat that industry is to produce your own eggs, and give the excess to friends. And isn’t using their chickens to do it kind of awesomely ironic?photo 2

I want some.

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