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Life Arts

The Story of One Rescued Battery Cage Hen

By       Message Suzana Megles     Permalink

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opednews.com Headlined to H4 4/16/14

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From http://www.flickr.com/photos/38782010@N00/516306239/: Battery Cage For Egg-Laying Hens
Battery Cage For Egg-Laying Hens
(image by takomabibelot)
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When I first learned about battery hens -- the poor chickens whose only purpose
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in life is to provide eggs for grocery customers, I just couldn't get over the idea that
some people could be so uncaring and cruel as to just stick a number of hens in a small
battery cage which didn't even give them the "luxury" of  movement which all
living beings need.
 
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I was even shocked and disappointed that a group of monks living in Georgia kept
battery hens and THEY SAW NOTHING WRONG WITH THIS.  They said they were
following the prescriptions of the government regulatory agency which approved
battery cages and such cruel practices as molting (depriving hens of food for a period
of time to spur egg-laying).   Where was their compassion?
 
As for the cruel, packed confinement -even jailed prisoners are given cells where they
can at least have some restricted movement, and they are criminals.  These hens aren't
guilty of any wrong doing, but we treat them shamefully and inexcusably.  They also
cannot even spread their wings-something which is natural to their needs.   
 
How much space is each hen given?  Per Wayne Pacelle of HSUS, he reported on the
Oprah Winfrey show which dealt with comparing CAFO farm animals and those on
traditional farms that the CAFO hens each had the space of a sheet of paper to move on. 
Certainly, this small space was unbelievably restricting and caused much suffering to
each and every hen.   
 
I miss some of  Oprah's shows such as this one.  No one has since provided us with
teaching moments like this.  On one of her shows she even took us into a cattle
slaughterhouse.  Some of the "experts" she brought aboard explained the procedures.
One of them foolishly observed that the cows had a good life until this day.  Sorry,
cafo animals  NEVER have a good day -- each is a day of horrendous suffering.  I
hope anybody who disputes this will make it a point to visit a chicken CAFO.
 
Oprah-please come back!  We need to see programs like the two mentioned above.
Knowledge is important if we ever hope to change the lives of these tortured farm
animals.
 
 
A  RESCUED BATTERY HEN NAMED SARAH DEFIED THE ODDS AND SURVIVED
 
Aside from what I wrote above, I did not know all that much of what actually happens
to a chicken living in these intolerable conditions.  I knew that when their egg-
producing capabilities were over, they would be slaughtered.  But what happened to
those precious few who were rescued?  In what condition were they in?  I thought that
they could just pick up and start enjoying a normal chicken life.  I was wrong.  Being in
those  battery cages wreaked havoc on their fragile bodies.
 
Karen Davis of United Poultry Concerns reprinted with permission from Food
Empowerment a story of one of the rescued hens named Sarah.
 
Sarah was rescued from a battery-cage facility in Ohio.  She and the other 20 rescued
hens were missing feathers and their bodies were almost bare as a result.  Their eyes
were murky after living in the amonia-filled air which naturally arose tfrom the manure
piles.  Imagine to have to live their lives in this stifling, putrid atmosphere.   
 
Of all of them, Sarah was the the most damaged by this experience.  She even suffered
bone fractures which hadn't properly healed.   As a result, she could not stand up.
 
Poor Sarah -- the other rescued chickens were soon out and about  in the sunshine with
the other rescued chickens in the sanctuary, but here was Sarah, featherless and crippled
with a broken leg.   
 
Would she mend? Her prognosis was not good.  No one expected her to rally or to even
live very long.
 
But Sarah would surprise everyone as she began getting up a little each day on her
deformed legs.  She began to move cautiously.  Her feathers were coming back, and even
they noticed a change in her expression.   It was no longer lusterless and downtrodden.
Now she appeared to be more alert and interested in her surroundings. 
 
Everyone at the sanctuary were happy were to see her out and about -- even moving freely
on the porch.  One day she was brought into the house.  There the personal attention she was
receiving made a huge impact on her continued wellness.
 
The writer was amazed at how this personal attention contributed to her over all well being. 
And when Sarah was carried up the steps to the porch, she was surprised when Sarah began
laying eggs once again.  Yes, Sarah was out of the woods now, and she was well on the
road to a complete recovery to almost everyone's surprise and joy.  She deserved some
happiness after all the suffering she experienced in those egg battery cages from hell.
 
 
ANOTHER DEBILITATING EFFECT OF LIVING IN A BATTERY CAGE.
 
This sancturay has adopted hundreds of egg-laying hens from the battery cages which
imprisoned them for most of their lives.  These were the lucky ones. because after being
rescued,  they were placed gently on the ground, and for the very first time in their lives
they felt the warm inviting earth under their feet.
 
Sadly though - because they were never exercised along with the relentless demand for
calcium which was depleted from their bodies for eggshell formation -these hens suffered
from varying degrees of osteoporosis.
 
The egg industry calls their osteoporosis "caged layer fatigue."  Naturally these hens would
have diffculty standing and spreading their wings.  The writer described them further with
a word description which should make all of us who care abut animal suffering saddened
of our treatment of these innocent creatures of God:
 
"Their bones are very fragile, often fractured, and sometimes broken.  They have a washed-
out appearance in their eyes, and their combs (the red crown on top of their heads turn
yellowish-white in the battery cage), as do their legs, and feet.  Their toenails are long and
spindly from never having scratched  vigorously in the ground like normal chickens.  Hens
fresh from an egg-laying facility look like spectral ballerinas, exhumed from an underworld."
 
I know that other ethical vegans will agree with me that we are grateful that we have no
need of eggs at all.  One day hopefully, more will join us in compassion or if they need
eggs so badly- that they will join us in agitating for the abolishment of battery cages which
imprison so many, many thousands innocent hens each and every day.  And God bless the
people in sanctuaries who can save a precious few from this terrible suffering. 
 
 
FOOTNOTE:  I felt this should be quoted directly from the post:
 
"Everything Sarah had known prior to being rescued was designed to defeat her personality
and her will because the egg industry dismisses any notion that these 'egg-laying machines'
retain natural instincts and behaviors  (apart from laying eggs).  Commercial egg producers
ridicule the idea that a person could have a friendly relationship with such hens.
 
But Sarah was not defeated.  She eventually chose to join the chickens outdoors, where she
held her own as a respected member of the flock, and we felt privileged to have had the
opportunity to spend several wonderful years with her before she died."
 
Thanks to all the people who gave this one little hen and the others a chance to be chickens
the way God intended.  I hope we all learned something from Sarah's story -- above all that life
is precious to all living beings.  We should treat them the way we would want to be treated if
we were in their place.  If they are needed for food -- all the more reason to treat them with
kindness and compassion. 

 

I have been concerned about animal suffering ever since
I received my first puppy Peaches in 1975. She made me take a good look at the animal kingdom and I was shocked to see how badly we treat so many animals. At 77, I've been a vegan for the (more...)
 

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