Category Archives: Rescue and Care information

Irena, Cookie, Eagle, Magician and the rest of the flock (feathered, furred and human)! – A month of the glorification of the chicken


Hello, my name is Irena and I live on the tiny island of Malta, roughly between Sicily and the northern coast of Africa.

I always wanted to be a scientist – a computational linguist, to be exact, but I think I understand at last why such an opportunity never presented itself after my graduation – maybe it was so that I would have a chance to meet chickens, fall in love with them, realize their plight and start helping them and fighting for them. In fact, I had already become a vegetarian thanks to a chicken many moons ago, but it is for the past 3 years that I’ve really had a chance to live with them and find out how absolutely amazing they are. Until recently employed as a customer service agent and translator with a large international company, now a new stay at home mommy, my heart is shared between my human family and that of our feathered (and also furry) sweethearts.

We have over fifty chickens which may sound like an enormous number but I’ve had to learn to care not for just one pet like I used to, but to try and look into the eyes of each and every member of our big family to make sure every individual is feeling well and nothing is bothering them. We have a few pure bred chickens who we take to shows occasionally, but the majority of our family are mixed. We also take in ex-battery hennies when we have such opportunities and our oldest so far was Zita who passed away at 7 years of age. We also occasionally take in other people’s unwanted chickens and have rescued some from the streets too. My dream is to open an official poultry sanctuary some day because God knows there is a need for one!

Most of our chickens have names (how else!) and quite a few of them know them very well, too (and run to us when called). Actually a lot of consideration goes into naming them – apart from a few names given for fun (such as our big old Aseel rooster who we named Eagle, or the little naked neck boy named Magician, or a hen named Cookie because she looked like a cinnamon cookie when she was born). But most of them somehow get human names because they are so like little people.

Quality time with our chickens is first and foremost about distribution of treats (which we, and our veggie vendors, and my colleagues at the office and just about everyone else around us now calls “chicken yummies” – any leftover veggies or bread that they can eat) – that keeps them busy and out of trouble (straying away, overmating etc). We have a tradition too to celebrate my Birthday with a grand Chicken Party where we buy several kilograms of watermelon, tomatoes and lettuce for them. Whenever I can, I will give individual attention to those who are happy to accept it – such as taking them in my lap, cuddling them, giving them a “back and shoulder massage” and just talking with them. Sometimes one will come for a ride in the car with us, or I will take, for example, our disabled hennie Polly and put her in the basket of the pram to come for a ride when I go outside with my baby.

I also participate with our chickens in various animal related events, fundraisers for animal charities, open days at sanctuaries and such, and the response of the public has been amazing – I remember one time when I took my hennie Greta with me for a “bring your pet day” at a local garden centre and a family who stopped just to look at her, ended up staying with us for 40 minutes and thanked us for enriching their lives in such an unexpected way. I admit I had tears in my eyes!

What has surprised me most about chickens is how much they are like dogs (because I was primarily a “dog person” for more than 20 years before getting to know chickens). They are so trainable, so food-oriented to learn tricks, they easily learn their names, they appreciate a routine and don’t have to be pushed into their carriers at bed time because after a few times of repetition they will just walk into them by themselves… They absolutely love to be petted, cuddled, massaged, hugged and tucked into your shirt or under your shawl in winter… They will close their eyes in your lap and gladly watch a movie with you.

Some will get so attached that they will literally follow you everywhere just to be close. Some will gently put their head on your shoulder when you hold them. I never knew that birds can express so much emotion – you can read so much in the eyes of the chickens. Their will to live, too, is astonishing – they are such fighters when it comes to diseases and injuries, they don’t give up that easily (but when they do, you know the end is near). They sure taught me that while there is life, there is hope and I’ve seen some miraculous recoveries in them that made me think the same can be true for people too.

I’d like to tell other people out there that chickens are shockingly intelligent, very emotional, spontaneous and funny, clean, warm and cuddly, they make friends and form couples with each other, they know how to share, they are crazy dedicated as mommies… And for us, humans, it is very possible to form a truly deep bond with a chicken – no lesser than with a dog! They say sometimes the smallest things take up the most room in your heart and I can attest to that – still missing my hen Tilly who barely weighed 400 grams but had a huge heart of gold with a beautiful soul beating inside her.

Our chickens recognize us first of all by acting calm and interested and not calling out alarm signals when they see us (contrary to when a stranger enters); they will also talk to us about how their day was, demand yummies, or just sweetly acknowledge in a low tiny voice when we come. Some of our roosters are hilarious in answering back to us, e.g. when I yell “Ronald!” out into the yard, I will get a bold and hearty response immediately.

In my still very limited experience, in order for chickens to thrive, each one needs to be first and foremost seen as an individual. It’s impossible to just fill their feeder and drinker as if for a “flock” and leave for the day – you have to make sure that every one of them is doing well and feeling happy and not disturbed by anything or anyone.

If I could say one thing on behalf of chickens, it would be – please, leave them off of your plates! Bake yummy egg-less (and just downright vegan) pastry which will melt in your mouth, and a nice, hot bowl of chicken-less soup will nurture you very nicely.

Chickens, when you get to know them, are nothing short of amazing, and we certainly don’t need ANY of their flesh, eggs or sufferings in our lives. Admire them and marvel at them, talk to them and cuddle them if you have such a chance, laugh with them and cry over their misfortunes, but leave them to enjoy life like every living being was meant to.

Some of my babies:

done and dusted – all the girls homed to GOOD homes

‎69/ 70 hens needing homes – homed to GOOD homes in less than 24 hours. Nobody is going to leave the one girl to go to butcher, so we are done and dusted! What an amazing response of warm, lovng people opening their hearts and homes to these old ladies. I look forward to getting to know our girls and hearing how they are all settling in at their respective homes. You are all gorgeous – thanks, thanks, thanks

Healthy Snack for Chicks

Healthy eating for healthy chickens


Just made a healthy snack for our chicks. 

magi mixed: 

 Carrot  (loads of vitamins, and roughage) 

Spinach (high in iron, and roughage) 

Dolomite (calcium and magnesium) (for healthy strong shelled egg laying and bone growth) 

Avian pro bitoics (to maintain a healthy gut, and boost immunity) 

Powdered spirulina (high protein for all sorts of things) 

They loved it! I have recently been trying a little powdered spirulina on food every 2 days, and it seems to be making a big difference to feather growth. All veggies should be fresh and in the same condition as you would eat them. Slimy/ old veggies could make your chickens sick. Just magi mixed veg (carrots/ spinach/ raw butternut/ cabbage) is great for chickens. Adds a raw/ fresh aspect to their diet. 

Are you aware that a corn and seed diet is not a balanced diet for your chickens? Chickens need much more variety, as they get when free ranging in a large natural area (remember a suburban garden has a little of what they need, not all). Get a good quality laying pellet for them, plus fresh veg, grass to graze on etc. 

Calcium supplements in layers is often vital in warding off all kinds of egg duct issues later in life. Ask your local vet for calcium dosages or see this good article I found on the net 

If you have any good diet tips for chickens, please post comments!

Rescue doc by Chickens as pets not food, Chicken rescue and rehabilitation South Africa, for Gippsland Chook Rescue, creating global unity against cruelty

Rescuing and Rehabbing Ex Battery hens      

This might help      

Rachel day 1


Rachel recovering


Rachel recovered


Before you rescue your hen, please take a moment to understand what your beautiful lady has been through, & therefore to better understand her specific needs in your new home.  At birth she will not have had time with her mother, & therefore will not have learned many things she may have needed to learn. At day 1 or 2, she would have had her beak burned with a searing hot blade without anaesthetic. Her beak may have remained in relatively good condition, or her beak may be markedly deformed. She would then have been kept in a cage the size of an A4 paper box, sometimes with other chickens, indoors. The floor of the cage is wire. She would have slept on wire, layed through the wire, & stood on wire her whole 300 odd days. She would have eaten layers mash off a conveyor belt. At the point at which her egg laying decreased she would have been pulled by her legs out of the cage, & transported in a ‘rough’ way to you.  In the last few days she has probably been fed minimally, & often not given adequate amounts of water.  She may have been pecked &  bullied by other chickens. She may have pecked &  bullied other chickens through stress.   

This would have been her miserable life, up until you come along.   

WARNING: You are about to do something life changing for her and for you. Savour every moment of her recovery. She is definitely feeling your love. It is an honour to be a part of her healing.   

 Be aware at the point of rescue, &  post rescue until healed, that your hen will be   

  • Tired
  • Immune compromised and thus vulnerable to infections
  • Stressed and frightened
  • Thirsty and hungry
  • Possibly ill
  • Unfit
  • Sore feet
  • Have nails that may be too long for comfortable walking
  • Terrified of open spaces, strange noise, pets, childreb and anything new or different  – even an aluminium or stainless steel water dish with a moving reflection can be terrifiying
  • Scared of humans!
  • Unable to handle direct sunlight for a few days

Your hen is a battered & abused woman who needs to re cooperate, heal & gain confidence in her new world at her OWN PACE!   

Preparation for Rescue and Rehab – what you will need   

  • 2 cardboard boxes – no smaller than 40 cm high, wide, deep, &  no bigger than 65cm.  Avoid any boxes that have been used to store chemicals or household soaps, detergents etc
  • A few clean towels (I also like using towelling nappies)
  • Newspaper
  • A small bowl/ Tupperware &  a bottle of water
  • A quiet place indoors where your hen can rest undisturbed by household noise
  • Layers mash
  • 2 bowls – one for water, & one for layers mash  shallow, non- tip, deep enough to immerse the full length of her beak but not deep enough that he has to strain or stretch her neck to access the water of food
  • If you can get hold a natural product such as ‘rescue remedy’ – take ½ a tab for her with you. This will minimise the shock and anxiety of the transportation. You can give her half a tab per day for a few days.

Find a room/ place in your home where your hen/s can be relatively undisturbed for the first few days. I often use the shower in my guest bathroom. Place one of your two cardboard boxes on its side with a clean towel inside the box. Place newspaper under &  around the box. Have a cereal bowl size bowl filled with clean water, & a similar sized bowl with layers mash.   

 May be an idea to offer electrolyte solution for the first few days alternating with water  – most of the these chickens will have a high degree of stress and dehydration & wil be prone to electrolyte imbalances – phenix stresspac, darrows etc are all excellent, & inexpensive & provide the chicken with an immediate &  easy source of energy, electrolytes & fluid….& stimulate the kidneys      

Make your own rehydrate:      

950ml water,  ½ teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon sugar,  1 teaspoon bi carbonate of soda      

The Rescue      

For the rescue you will need to take      

  • Your other cardboard box with a folded towel in the bottom
  • If you are travelling back home more than ½ hour – take some water for her, &  try to get her to drink a little before going home. Gently dip her beak in & out of the water, to show her what it is.  Gently put the towel over her back, making sure the wings are in place on the body, & hold her against you. She will be sore and bruised, so handle her gently.
  1. Place her in the box in the car without the additional towel wrapped around her
  2. Close the box for the journey home, and keep out of sun. This will be less stressful for your hen, and safer for driving.

Bringing your hen home Day 1      

Take your hen directly to the safe, quiet space you have allotted for her. If in a bathroom, please close the toilet lid, as she may try to jump up on the loo, & end up drowning or hurting herself.      

Take her out of the box, & show her food. You can sit water and with her quietly for a bit, however best at this point to leave her to sleep, eat, drink & calm down. Check in every hour or so, and make sure you have seen her eat.  You can also feel if she is eating, by feeling her crop. The crop is a storage tank for food, situated on the right hand side of her chest. If the crop is full, or has some food in it, it should feel like a little golf ball. If winter, please make sure that the room is warm – however an exposed heater would be dangerous for her.      

Make sure that she has a regular change of newspaper and towels, so that she can keep clean and start getting healthy.      

Chickens poo a lot.      

Day 2 & Day 3 etc      

Let your hen spend most of the day in the ‘rest room’. This is not dull or boring for her. She has had so little so far. You can take her outside (if she is well), for 2 periods of half an hour. Put her on the grass in the shade, and stay with her while she explores, pecks or lies down. Do not introduce to her to other chickens for a few days, it is too much for her. Unless she has come with other chickens, then they will provide security for eachother.  Provide a box for her to walk into if she needs security.      

Repeat day 2, with a little more time outside, if you feel your hen can handle it.  Minimise dogs barking near her, children running around. Keep it quiet and calm.      

Continue introducing more and more garden time, depending on how hen responding. Make sure she always has access to fresh water and food.      

If you have made the decision to house your hen out of the house at night. You will need a water proof hen house for her. A wooden dog kennel raised off the ground makes a great hen house. Create a small ramp or ladder for her to climb in. Make sure your hen has plenty of clean straw/ hay or cut veld grass to lie in at night & when she is laying, & that she is well protected in winter, especially if she is missing many of her feathers. Make sure she is locked in at night, so that she is safe from predators.      

Introduce your hen to the hen house. At roosting time, as starts to get dark, take her & put her in the hen house. Do this each night, until she learns this is her home. Chickens love routine, & will do the same thing each night & morning if that is how things are done consistently.  If her house becomes her sanctuary, this is where she will sleep and lay.      

If you have other chickens, she will learn the behaviour from them.      

Some of these hens will not be able to climb a big ladder.      

Introducing your hen to other chickens      

Chickens have a strong pecking order, & establish it through fighting. However, if a chicken is particularly weak, the rest may kill her. Do not introduce your hen too early to the flock, especially if they are strong & healthy. Give her time to get confident & stronger, & introduce her slowly to the others one at a time.  They will go at each other. You have to be close by to separate them, should either one start coming off worst. Intervene and gently push them apart. If your new hen is terrified & being hammered, plse remove her until she gets stronger, & everyone calms down. Small introductions over a few days are best. Suddenly they all settle, & there is calm!      

I think roosters are hectic, &  your hen has been through a lot. I prefer to keep my hen’s rooster free. All they need is a hectic man in their lives, after all they have already been through!      

If you do have roosters & hens we encourage you to pick up eggs and not let them breed. There are far too many chickens in need in the world.      

Feeding your hens      

Start with layers mash, as this is what they will be used to.      

Start introducing laying pellets. Corn is not a substantial enough diet for a hen.      

Watch your hen to see if she is able to pick up small stones etc from the garden. She will have to learn this, as she has never had the opportunity before, &  her deformed beak may make this difficult for her.  Watch her, &  see how proficient she is before introducing only laying pellets. You can go through a process of mixing the two.      

Never feed your hens old slimy veggies, this will make them sick. All veggies fed should be in the condition that you would eat them.   Laying mash or grain should never be wet or mouldy either      

My chicks like finely sliced spinach, magi mixed cabbage, cherry tomatoes, apple, raisins, & grated carrot.  Sliced spinach, green beans, grated pumpkin, butternut, sweet potato,  dry lucern crumbled. All these are over &  above their balanced pellets. Berries &  tropical fruits are not great for chickens. However, only introduce this sort of thing into their diet once they are settled. This is an addition to their diet, not a necessity. They will also eat grass, leaves etc from the garden.      

I sometimes add some powdered brewer’s yeast to their food, which assists in keeping them healthy.      

Sprinkle avian probitiocs on food  – helps to improve immunity & prevent gastro intestinal problems.      

Vital makes a dolomite tablet (calcium and magnesium). Buy these, put through coffee grinder, &  sprinkle 1 x teaspoon per hen on food once a week for some additional calcium.      

 Sick Hens      

Your hen is ill if she stands or sits fluffed up, head drawn slightly into her body. If she is sneezing, or there is mucus coming from her nose. If there is a curdling sound when she breathes. If she is not eating  or drinking for ½ a day to a day. If her stools are repeatedly runny. She will need medical attention.      

Open mouthed breathing (other than if she is hot), discoloured membranes ( angry pink, purple, blue or yellow tinges are all warning signs)  Labored breathing, gasping, abdomina breathing, clicking, rasping sounds on intake our outlet of breath.      

Egg Laying and Feathers      

Your hen may not lay for the first few days, or weeks.  The stress of changing homes can interrupt egg laying.  Your hen may also lay eggs without shells when she is very stressed. This is ok, if all else is in order…that is, if she is not displaying any other sick symptoms. She should lay about 5 eggs a week. As she gets older, the eggs may have ridges in the shells. This is ok, the eggs are still good. Hot weather, and cold weather can also interrupt laying.      

Make sure there is plenty of easily accessible fresh water around. Hens without water do not lay.      

Your hen may have lost many of her feathers through mishandling, malting, wire cages, other chickens. These feathers will re grow. The smaller feathers take 3 weeks to 4 months to grow. Big wing and tail feathers take up to a year to 18 months to regenerate.      

The End      

If you can no longer look after your hen for whatever reason, please responsibly re home your hen, or take her to a reputable sanctuary.      

If your hen has had adequate medical attention, & is not healing. Plse end her suffering in a compassionate way at your local vet. Don’t let her suffer anymore than she already has in her short life.      


Enjoy her. The more you put in, the more you will get out. Hens are social, gregarious, love dust bathing, intelligent, love eating, enjoy lying in the sun, like eating grass, digging in soil (digging at the roots of your plants), and sunning their wings on a warm day, & absolutely lovable….      

Henriette and Melody take a dust bath


 A dust bath assists in quelling excess oil on feathers and gets rid of mites and fleas.      

Yay, good luck & keep in touch. We love hearing your stories, & seeing photos.      

Join our face book page &  or blog for updates. Please post your updates &  pics on our face book page. As chicken lovers we love sharing stories of our fabulous fowl. See all relevant details below.      

Warm Regards      

Chickens as pets not food, Chicken Rescue and Rehabiltation, South Africa!/pages/Chickens-as-pets-not-food-Chicken-Rescue-and-Rehabilitation/101165646600196?ref=ts      

Weekend Rescues ‘if we are to kill animals, let them not long for death before we do kill them’-

This was a post posted in March of this year. I am re posting it, as it gives a good idea of what the majority of our hens have gone through, and the partial process of rehabilitation.

On Sunday I went to Zandspruit to rescue 4 chickens. 3 for a woman in Kyalami (who responded to our article in animal voice, and so generously made space in her home for some hens), and 1 for Ralf in Parkhurst. My usual seller was not there. The guy who was there had the chickens in very low-roofed cages. They had no water and no food, and Sunday was hot.

These chickens are ex laying hens who have been in a battery farm for just over a year. At 2 days they would have had their beaks seared short with a burning blade – no anaesthetic.  This is to ensure that in their crowded conditions, they do not start to cannibalize each other.

These hens have been deprived of a mother figure, and so have not learned many of the things they should have. For 300 days they live in a shed in a wire cage no bigger then an A4 piece of paper. They may have had to eat food off a conveyor belt or trough in front of them. They would have  stood on wire, slept on wire and lay on wire. Light is manipulated to get an extra egg or two a week.

After 300 days their bodies stop egg laying for a period of 90 days. It is not economically viable to feed them through this period, so the farmers (are they really farmers? do they deserve that title? Farmers conjure up images for me of nice, warm people, who care and love their cow called Daisy, and chicken called Henny Penny) send them to cull depots. The process of transportation is traumatic and rough, and these chickens are deprived of enough food and water.

At the cull depot the hens are sold to informal traders, who use whatever rudimentary form of transportation and housing they have to get them to the townships and informal settlements for re sale. Again these chickens are not given adequate water, food and shelter from the elements. This is how they spend their last days awaiting their inevitable backyard slaughter.

The handling of the chickens is also coarse. The chickens are pulled in and out of the cage by their legs (often causing breakages or dislocations). They are carried by their legs and often their legs are bound with old plastic, wire…whatever is easily available.

Our rescue on Sunday was challenging. The cage had a very low roof, and it was therefore difficult to get the struggling hens out with care. At first the seller started the process. However, I could see that legs were going to be damaged as he yanked the first hen to the door by her foot. I took over, and gently prized each one out holding their wriggling bodies.

Trying to gently remove 4 wriggling terrified hens from their low-roofed hell without hurting them

These particular hens were dehydrated, anorexically thin and terrified (not uncommon). They are missing a lot of their feathers.

Please be aware of what you are supporting when you buy non free range eggs (well thats another story, but it is marginally better than non free range eggs). Also be aware of supermarket chains using non free range products in their baked goods.

Once we had got the 4 into the box I had brought to transport them in, I paid, and then started the process (which I always do) of begging, pleading, asking, chatting, preaching, cajoling, negotiating a better life for these hens pre death. The ones left. Food is not something I can always negotiate, as it is expensive and therefore unlikely to happen. We can usually get water to the hens. This particular seller was very open to getting water for them – whether this was his attempt at appeasing me for future good customer relations, or whether he will continue to water in my absence, I do not know.

This makes me think of a quote I heard, ‘if we are to kill animals, let them not long for death before we do kill them’

Organising water for the remaining chickens

Having got the 4 chickens back to the farm, I put them into a grassy enclosure we have created with a dog kennel with straw for shelter. We placed a number of bowls of water and food around the enclosure, and left them to unwind. It takes time for the hens to recognise the bowls we are giving them as water and food. I observed them for an hour or two until dark. I was not satisfied with their intake of water, given that their combs were drooping due to lack of nutrients and dehydration.

Drooping Comb due to lack of nutrients and dehydration

I crop fed the 4 of them with the assistance of my husband Nick. Crop feeding is a process of inserting a tube down the throat into the crop (a holding tank for food situated on the right hand side of the chest), and syringing food directly into the crop via the tube. Crop feeding is an invasive procedure, and can be dangerous if you get the tube into the lungs and not the crop. I gave them a watery mixture of pronutro, pro biotics, calcium and nutri calm.  Crops full we put them to bed. I could also sleep better knowing they had some nutrients and most importantly fluid in them. This would increase chance of survival till morning.

The 4 hens spent the next day feeling sun on their backs for the first time, grass under their feet, and having easy access to food and water. They are traumatized, tired, sore and unfit from spending no time in their lives roaming around. They slept much of the day, ate and drank, and 2 even managed to produce an egg each. Nick and I trimmed their excessively long toe nails, which grow unhindered in the wire cages. The hens have no opportunity to wear them down through scratching and walking. Their nails are often so long, it cripples them.

Long nails create made walking difficult and can temporarily cripple

They are now back in Parkhurst, under observation for a day or two. Once I am sure they are not harbouring any viruses, and they are eating and drinking adequately, they will go to their new and loving homes.

Ralf sent me this mail last night

“Everybody here at the parkhurst branch of FarawayFarm is very excited and ready to welcome her to a life of comfort and peace.

I am so moved by his compassion and empathy, and so grateful for other people in the world who feel the way that I do.

If you are wanting to rescue and rehab your own chickens, or provide a home for an already rescued pair of hens or more. Please contact me on this blog, and we will endeavour to do all we can to assist you through this process. It will change your life, and your hens! So much joy in store for you both.

The 4 girls feel the sun on their backs and grass under their feet for the first time

 The Kyalami chicks are called Do, Re, and Me. Ralfs chick is called Prude. She had a friend called Trude. All the girls are doing excellently. They escaped death by a few minutes. The ones we left behind were not so lucky. 

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Chicken rescue 24 April Day 3 and Day 4

Day 3

Went to open the chicken hoek this morning and check the new girls. All made it through the night. This is on my mind each morning for the first few days after a chicken rescue. Each night that they make it through, sees them stand a better chance of survival. They left the safety of their ‘cave’ and entered the outside world with less trepidation this morning than yesterday morning. They are already growing in confidence. I am satisfied that they are all now eating and drinking on their own.

One chicken has what looks remarkably like a burn on her comb. A portion of her comb is black, hard and crusty, almost charred. Despite looking painful, and not what it should be, she seems to be energetic, and it is not infected. Will keep an eye on it. I wonder what happened?

Burnt or damaged comb?

The day is relatively uneventful. 2 eggs from new chicks. Late in the avie, when I go to put them to bed, one of the girls surprises me by running to meet me at the gate, and allows me to stroke her, and pick her up. The other three stay clear of me, but I am really touched by this display of affection and trust, after all she has been through at the hands of humans.

Still cold and wet.

Temporary coup for new hens - cold, misty day in Magaliesburg

Day 4

All 4 chickens rushed out to greet the day with confidence this morning. The weather is not great for chickens. They are all cold and wet and miserable. Today I take them back to Parkhurst to be fetched by their respective new families. I shall miss them. The girls did well today. Jaqui and her gorgeous family fetched two of the chicks late afternoon. Celeste will fetch over the weekend.

4 new girls view the big wide misty, wet world

Chicken Rescue 24 April 2010 Day 1 and Day 2

Day 1

Stopped at Zandspruit. Usual chicken seller was there. Very happy to see that chickens had water this time, and he was proud to show me. We have had numerous arguments about him not supplying water to chicks. It seems  something has changed through our conversations. Got our 4 chickens who were dirty, smelly and very frightened –they reminded me of a phrase coined by Patricia Glyn, ‘diarrhoea smudged bodies’. I stayed in my car at Zandspruit and observed people coming to buy their weekends meat.  I focused on the 4 chickens I did have in my care now, and tried to detach from the 4 I saw bound and carried away, held roughly by their wings, desperately squawking. Their backyard slaughter waiting for them. Capturing these images through the lens of my camera helps me detach.

Binding Chickens legs for ease of carrying away for backyard slaughter. Chickens get carried by their wings.
Chicken bound, and being carried squawking away by wings. After a year of living in squalid conditions in a battery house, giving her eggs for re sale. This is the payment she gets. The whole cycle is so disrespectful. Make a difference and buy free range eggs (if you have to at all). Complain to your local supermarket chain, and tell them to STOP stocking non free range eggs

When I get the girls to Magaliesburg, we release them into our temporary chicken hoek, were they will spend the next few days, getting used to the world around them. De stressing, eating, sleeping, drinking and recovering. On opening the box, we discover one of these terrified hens has managed to lay an egg. I feel as though she has scored one against the world already – what an injustice if she had laid it an hour before, this great gift her body has to offer, and had been slaughtered later that night.

2 of the 4 girls rescued at Zandspruit this last weekend. They will all be re homed

The girls eat little and do not recognise the water I am giving them.  Before bed time, my husband Nick, and I make a call to bring them into the kitchen and crop feed them (an invasive process of passing a tube down the throat into the crop – a storage facility for food – and putting food down the tube via syringe). I feed them a watery solution of pronutro and warm water. Their crops are hardly bulging, but I feel they have had some food and hydration to give them a chance of good sleep. The thought of going to bed on an empty tummy, does not fly with me! We put them to bed. Although they have a dog kennel filled with straw, I cover the straw with a large fluffy blanket. These girls are weak, and it is a particularly cold and wet night. They are worn down by this stage and make little attempt to fight with us.

Weather cold and wet.

Day 2

Yay, all 4 girls alive. They have made it through their first night.  Two, start eating during the morning on their own. The other 2 get it by lunchtime. I am aware that they are not drinking. Often the battery  hens do not recognise water in the new and different bowl and setting you are offering it to them in. If one takes the bold step of trying, I know the rest will follow.  


My friend Kathy and I observe the hens. They are still not drinking. I identify the bravest hen. She allows me to come within half a metre of her. I wiggle my finger in the bowl, and make little splashes. She watches with interest, I move away from the bowl, and she slowly moves towards it. Bingo, she drinks! We quietly clap with excitement.  The other two hens are drinking within half an hour. By evening the last hen is also drinking.

During the day I sms Jaqui (mom to two of the new rescues). I tell her we have her hens, and that although frightened, weak, and scraggly – very gorgeous. I get this great sms back from her

‘Such excitement at home for the new arrivals. Kids thinking of names. Hopefully we have more appropriate names soon. The hens have been thru enough in this life already. They certainly won’t want to spend the rest of it named ‘smelly socks’. Thanks again for what you have done for both us and especially the hens.  Lots of love waiting here for them. J’

Again, feel so safe that these hens will have an amazing life.

Obligatory nail clip in the afternoon. Their nails are long from not being able to walk around and scratch in the dirt. They are walking easier post pedicure.

Weather cold and wet.

See comments posted for this post by Celeste, mom to other two rescues from weekend.  Another amazing chicken lover!