The rescued hens, who were covered with flies and lived among 1,000 decaying chicken carcasses and knee-deep manure, were being slowly starved to death in an attempt to “force molt” them, according to farm owner Keith Amberson. In a written statement, a visiting farmer said he saw, “Hundreds and hundreds of dead bodies, and the ones aren’t dead are just standing there, starving to death.”
Nearly 1,500 surviving hens were provided immediate refuge with farmed animal shelters and vegetarian families who were eager to provide a “happy ending” for these birds. As soon as the hens were strong enough to be transported, our shelter team drove to Washington to pick up the birds. On April 17, 2000, 276 happy hens arrived at our California Shelter. The hens arrived late at night, and waiting volunteers and staff gently unloaded and tucked the birds into a safe and comfy straw-filled barn. The next morning, we opened the doors and the birds stepped out into the sunshine.