Category Archives: Other

We welcome Izzy, Daisy and Cinderella – read what these chicks have already been through

Izzy, Daisy and Cinderella – our new chicks

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.

Pic taken from my phone
Pic taken with my phone

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.

Damaged beak from searing with hot blade. This is as much as her beak can seal shut

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.

Cinderella’s damaged beak and subsequent eye infection

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.

Cute Daisy – has also had end of beak seared off, but damage has been less than Cinderella

Day 2 – baby pigeon

Woke up at 3:30am to check baby. Yeah. Still alive. Despite leaving blow heater on in room, the baby was cold – changed hot water bottle. Woke up 5:30am to feed her. Stools very green. Upped feed to 7ml. She went back to sleep until 7:30am. Woke screeching and calling for another feed. 9ml.

Suggested name by daughter 1 : Gracie

Suggested name by daughter 2: Isabella (note: we have a dog called Stella and chicken called Bella Ella)

maybe we could combine the two names and call her Grisabella (!)

The jury is still out on this one.

Left baby in warm room with sun streaming in for morning. Sadly each time she heard or saw pigeons pass the window she called pitifully and desperately, flittering her wings by her side. Another 9ml at 11:30. Had to go to work. Will rush back asap in afternoon to feed.

Fed her at 4pm. 10 ml. Baby pecked twice  at a spot on the towel I was feeding her on. This is good developmentally.  Stools darker green, black, and white. Seems we are getting more food in. Feeding directly into crop with small tube would be more effective, however, have only crop fed chickens. This baby is so small and I am so frightened of hurting her, or getting the tube into her lungs. Lets see how we go tonight and tomorrow……



Henriettes Story

Henriette Day 1
Henriette was rescued last year from Zandfontein squatter camp in Gauteng. Henriette had finished her 300 days laying at a battery farm and was  sold to an informal trader for meat. I bought Henriette for R 20, instead of R 35. She was on sale. I lifted her out of the cage. Her eyes were shut and she was very still. For a momemt I thought she was dead, however the green mucus bubbling out of her nose, indicated otherwise. She had few feathers and weighed very little. I could feel each bone beneath her skin of her frail body. Henriette took 2 weeks of intense nursing. Crop feeding three times a day with a tube, anti biotics and loads of sleep. She would not eat or drink of her own accord. I thought I would have to euthanase, but something made me hang on. One morning she woke up walked over to the bowl of food and started pecking away. The whole family sat staring at her. Henriette lived with us in our family home for 4 months. She grew in confidence each day, and slowly began to separate from us and bond with the other chickens. Eventually it felt right to take her to our family farm to live with the rescue flock we have there. I see her each weekend, and she is loving the freedom of free ranging, and the safety of her hen house at night with her friends around her. Henriette still has a slightly haunted and alarmed look about her, and does everything at double the speed of other chickens. As though she has so much to make up for.


Recovering – Henriette makes a nest in the warmth of the DVD cupboard
Henriette 4 months down the line