Last week my sister arrived at my home with 2 tiny baby chicks she had rescued that were destined for animal food. They were aprox 3 days old, and were cold, hungry and thirsty. They had had too much exposure to elements and not enough TLC. This is the plight of most baby roosters hatched in a hatchery. They are usually luckier if death is by maceration (a huge grinder) a few days after hatching, rather than being thrown into a box, and transported to their next end.
Both Thomas and Muffin died within 48 hours of me getting them. In retropsect, I stood little chance of pulling them through, but tried anyway. My heart broke last Saturday, as I held baby Thomas and watched the life ebb out of him over a period of 2 hours. He peeped pitifully talking to me constantly, until the last half hour, when he was too weak to peep anymore. I was so sad for all the pain and suffering out there in the world, and so angry at an industry that treats animals as products and not as sentient beings.
Heart broken, and feeling as though I had had this bundle of joy brought into my life, and as quickly taken away, I decided to look at the options for getting some more chicks. My experinece with chicks is limited, as we mostly rescue mature hens and roosters. I decided that getting chicks that were destined for battery, was the way to go. I found a company that specifically hatches laying hens for battery houses, and asked them how I go about buying 2. They laughed, and said usually we sell hundreds at a time, but that I could buy 2 if I wanted – R 5.47 each!
Tuesday morning saw our 3 respective staff members, my one daughter and myself prepare a basket with a hot water bottle, and some feathers, and set off to get out new babies.
Security was tight at the facility, and we were not allowed anywhere near the hatchery. We handed over our basket and asked the guy there to choose 2 chicks for us. Our hot water bottled basket caused much hilarity – apparently chicks are usually packed in cardboard boxes or crates.
wow, 4 of them, not 2 as expected…..guy told us mortality rate high, so he added 2 more…bonus ….more work, but 2 more hens who don’t get to see the inside of a battery facility
Welcome to Buhle (meaning beautiful), Amy, Thembi (meaning trust) and Karen. Food and water immedietly – not taking any chances here
We are now going into our 4th day with our new girls. I am starting to relax a little – they seem strong, and it seems we are doing all the right things. Keeping them in a consistantly warm environment is key. We are operating an infra red light during the day, plus a space where they can go to be on hot water bottles with feathers on top. During night, we turn off the infra red, as they do not seem to settle with it on, and keep them on hotties. I am feeding them a ground mix of chick food, almonds, sunflower seeds, bird seed, and some grit from the garden to help them digest food. It was suggested we microwave the grit first to eliminate any bacteria from our dogs or other chickens, until they get stronger and older.
Our vet said that with any animal that is young or sick, but obviously refferring to baby chicks, the most important things are
so…….adherring to those principles stringently, and it seems to be working.
I have learned so much this week, just comparing the 2 little men last week to the 4 stronger, healthier girls this week.
Their behavious is so different – the girls are live wires, playing, hopping, jumping, eating, drinking, foraging – one of them even starting an afternoon sandbath on the towel they are on. The boys last week, were so sick and weak, they did very little of that. The boys had very smelly poos, and they were coated in mucus. These girls poo tiny little mousse like knots, that hardly smell at all.
I don’t think I could have done much more for those 2 little boys, but of course with every rescue, I have the opportunity of learning something more that assists in creating the best possible outcome for future rescues.