We welcome chicklets (or as my eldest daughter calls them ‘lovelets’)Daisy, Izzy (sometimes called baby Amber) and Cinderella into our lives!
Found at a pullet crèche – a vast warehouse type building, with no windows, on a farm with close to 5000 chicks (pullets) all crammed into the space. These chicks have never felt the warmth of their mothers wings around them, heard her gentle crooning, or had the dirt and mites carefully preened off their little bodies. At 2 days old they have had a good portion of their beaks burned off with a burning hot blade – no anaesthetic. Their tongues, roof of their mouths and base of their mouths all get seared in the process. This barbaric practice has been put into place to stop the chickens cannibalising each other in the cramped spaces they will call their homes for the rest of their limited lives. One barbaric practice to off set the associated problems of another cruel practice.
These chicks then grow into young adults and are moved into the ‘warehouse’ next door. I went to visit these hens who sit listlessly in the semi dark, with little space to move, forage or even lie down.
Once these hens have reached egg laying age, they will be sold to egg farmers who will cram them into cages the size of an A4 piece of paper. Sometimes 2 chickens in one cage. Again with no sun, or space to do what hens do. After their 300 days of laying (they have not stopped laying for good, just a break in their cycle for their bodies to recover, however they will not be afforded the luxury of recovery), they will be sent to a cull depot. Many of the hens die or are damaged through poor handling and transportation. At the cull depot these hens are sold to informal traders who use whatever rudimentary transportation and caging they may have to get the hens to the different townships and informal settlements for an ultimate back yard slaughter.
All 3 already bare the scars of their lives thus far – yet Cinderella has suffered the most long-term damage. The heat applied to her beak has not only taken the end ½ cm off, but has changed the shape of her beak, sinus structure and has pulled the skin around her eye on the one side from round to almond-shaped. Her beak is skew, and no longer closes properly. Eating and drinking is a challenge. Drinking leaves her sniffing and chooing, as water invariably goes into her nostrils.
On Saturday morning Cinderella woke with a massively swollen eye on the damaged side. Anti bios and a topical cream has assisted in her recovery. She is, and will adapt.
So…..not only are we lucky to have Izzy, Daisy and Cinderella, but they are VERY lucky to be with us. They have no idea what fate they have escaped.
This week has seen us introducing them to the garden, which they love. Their enthusiasm and curiosity is magical, and their spirits and zest for life have not been broken yet. We are thoroughly enjoying our new baby girls. Sadly, Amber, Galhinia and Bella do not share our joy, and are having to be separated from the babies.