On February 24, Farm Sanctuary, Animal Place, and Harvest Home joined together to rescue hens at a factory farm in Modesto, CA, where 50,000 hens used for egg production had been abandoned and left to starve for two weeks.
March 15, 2012- Update from the field!
Orland Shelter Director Tara Oresick has been overseeing the rehabilitation of the hundreds of hens with the help of our staff and volunteers. Tara writes:
During the first few days following the rescue, many of the hens needed fluids and tube feedings… some were even presenting signs of renal failure and shock. Unfortunately, for some of the hens, too much damage had been done — their frail bodies were shutting down.
By the end of the first week, however, most of the remaining hens really started to perk up, and they continue to grow stronger and more active each day. In the beginning, if we found a hen lying on her side, it was because she was too weak to stand. Now, if we find a hen on her side, it’s almost always because she’s dust bathing or basking in a beam of sunlight!
We still have about 25 hens in smaller, warmer pens we built in the barn. These hens were the weakest and needed the most individual care. Some have decided on their own that they are healthy enough to live with the main group,and they fly out of their pens to be with the other hens! Most will probably be strong enough to join the main flock in the coming days. Two weeks into rehabilitation, we are still treating all the hens for poultry mites. We will continue to check them regularly until we’re confident that the mites are gone.
On warm days, we open up the door to the yard. At first, no one wanted to go outside. Finally, one brave hen ventured out, followed by a few more. Now, every day, more of the hens seem interested in going outside to explore their new surroundings.
Vivian was one of the hens who needed the most care. She was very weak from lack of nutrients and water, but over the past two weeks she has improved significantly. Early on, she needed to be held and hand-fed in order to eat because she was too weak to stand and eat on her own. When she began to improve, we took her outside to see how she would respond to being in the sun and having dirt to scratch in. She was still weaker and less active than the others, but she was able to stand all by herself! And, if that wasn’t exciting enough, she then started grooming herself!
When I see Vivian or any of these beautiful hens grooming, dust bathing or running around flapping their wings, I have to remind myself that they are the same starved girls who we carried from the A&L Poultry warehouse. Their resilience is truly inspiring.
February 24, 2012 from the field:
National Shelter Director Susie Coston has been on the ground with staff and volunteers providing care for the sick and weak hens. Susie writes:
“We took just over 400 hens this week, some Leghorn and some Brown chickens. Thirty have not been able to stand without falling since I arrived… the Leghorns should weigh about four pounds, and all weighed less than one pound… They seem to take comfort in being given fluids and being hand-fed. Some of the sickest are pulling through. They are eating and drinking on their own after the first three days of fluids, tube feedings, injectable vitamins, and trying different types of foods… We’ve checked every one of the birds individually. They are coated with poultry mites; these cause anemia and are extremely debilitating to animals in such critical condition. Today all were treated, and the mite-coated feathers were trimmed out. Most of the girls are so exhausted and sick, not one has laid an egg yet. Even spent hens lay tons of eggs, so this is really unusual… they thrive on the sun, and they’ve been able to sunbathe for the first time in their lives!” Read Susie’s full report.
In addition to rescuing hens and providing urgent and rehabilitative care, Farm Sanctuary is pressing for the owner of the factory farm to be charged with the maximum penalty under the law, including jail time. Read our letter to the District Attorney.
You can help with providing urgent and rehabilitative care for the hens by donating to our Emergency Rescue Fund.