Category Archives: Blog

Experiments on chickens conducted at Chickens as pets not food – Chicken Rescue and Rehabilitation South Africa

Its true! We have been conducting an experiment of our own here at Chicken Rescue and Rehabilitation South Africa on our dear ex batt Claire.

It all started with a rescue in February, when we picked up some very bruised and battered ex batts. Grace, had severe neurological damage after been hit against the side of a metal cage, and went onto a regime of homeopathic nerve support, as well as a well needed vitamin B injection. Vitamin B is also excellent in the support of neuro damage. Graces neurological , mis-firings slowly healed, but I noticed something else. Grace, had new feathers, and within a few short weeks, despite her compromised body, she was developing and growing the most exquisite new feathers – faster than I had ever seen a compromised ex batt cover. I could only attribute it to the vit B injection, but decided that we needed to start some trials of our own.

This is where Claire enters the picture. Claire has been with us for over a year, and has never managed to develop enough feathers to cover her shoulders and back, despite a multi vitamin and good food. Claire has always had poor feather development. As winter was around the corner, and I didn’t want Claire to suffer the cold another year, I started Claire on a B complex. I elected not to inject this time, as I was warned it is a very sore injection.

I bought a good quality B complex from my local pharmacy in capsule form. The first two weeks I gave Claire 1/4 of a capsule daily. I sprinkled the powder into a piece of bread, closed the bread around the powder and made it into a tight ball, which I popped down her throat. After two weeks, I sprinkled 2 x vit B capsules (for 11 chickens) over their food aprox 5 x a week. This was started on the 27th March 2015, and this article was written on the 31st May 2015 – 2 months later.

The results have been very pleasing. All the flock seem to have really grown some great feathers, and Claire in particular has finally grown some shoulder and back feathers, where I thought we would never see feathers again. A possible added benefit, is that both Claire and Ruby where having repeated ‘egg bound’ issues up until I started the vit B. I cannot attribute the evaporation of the egg issues to the vit B for sure, but it does seem rather a coincidence.

I will continue to watch and monitor our flock on the Vit B complex, and will continue to try this on newly rescued hens and document the results. I know one trial is not going to be enough for some of you scientists out there, but its enough for me to feel confident to share this far.

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27th march 2015
27th march 2015
27th march 2015
27th march 2015
15th April 2015
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15th April 2015
15th April 2015
15th April 2015
15th April 2015
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27th April 2015
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27 April 2015
27 April 2015
31 May 2015
31 May 2015
31 May 2015
31 May 2015

Janine completed course on Chicken Welfare and Behavior through University of Edinburgh

Janine, who does invaluable volunteer work for Chicken Rescue and Rehabilitation also recently completed this important course through Universitt of Edinburgh. It was in fact Janine, who came across it and alerted me to it. Congrats Janine! 


Completed course on chicken welfare and behavior through University of Edinburgh

Recently completed this informative short on line course through the University of Edinburgh. 

The course is run through Coursera and is free, unless you want to pay a smallish fee for a verified certificate. 

If you have chickens as pets, or work with chickens, I recommend the course. There are a few things I did not agree with, and feel we have kinder techniques to deal with some behavioral issues, but for the most part, I found it interesting and beneficial. 

Let us know if you do end up taking the course! 



94.7 breakfast express vegetarian continued. Jessica Prinsloo writes to the breakfast team about their levels of disrespect ……

Hello Team


I didn’t hear the discussion you had on Vegetarianism but it was brought to my attention through a few of your vegetarian listeners. They claim that you were insensitive and disparaging towards vegetarians and vegans and although I cannot find the podcast to hear it for myself, judging from the response on Facebook it’s plain to see that this was the stance you took.


I am neither vegan nor vegetarian. So I’m not writing to you to tell you all the ethical, health related, agricultural and sustainability related pros that vegetarianism provides – of which there are many. Nor am I writing to defend my lifestyle choices over theirs.


I am writing to you because in your position as radio presenters you have an ethical responsibility regarding what you broadcast to the public. You hold influence. If you didn’t, you wouldn’t be on the radio. So I find disparaging an entire group of people absolutely deplorable. You should be ashamed of yourselves. Let’s imagine the same ‘jokes’ were being made about gays, Jews, blacks, women, or, say, fat people. Does that just seem wrong? I bet you wouldn’t dare. How is it in any way justifiable to make fun of vegetarians? Are they for some reason less deserving of respect? Are they not allowed to make their own choices?


You may go so far as to think, “Well, being gay or black is not a choice.” But why are you promoting bigotry on any level when you should be preventing it at all costs? You may think me overly-sensitive and that the conversation was in jest so I should lighten up. There was a time that black people were systematically ridiculed. I wonder if anyone ever told Mandela to lighten up? Yes, I am using hyperbole to make a point. You have the power to spread tolerance, in a country that so desperately needs you to do so and yet you choose the path of denigration. Shame on you.


I do not write to you as an animal activist, or to promote or defend vegetarian, non-vegetarianism or any other lifestyle choice. I write to you in the hope that you bring educational value to the topics you present in the future so that listeners are encouraged to make informed decisions instead of blindly following your personal agenda. I write to you to defend the right of people to make their own choices and not be arbitrarily judged for doing so. I write to you in the hope that you think twice before making it seem that derision of any person’s race, lifestyle, caste or creed is anything other than abhorrent. I write to you in the hope that you use your platform to be advocates of tolerance in the future.


Thank you for your time.

Jessica Prinsloo

94.7 vegetarian discussion continued …. Read activist Alexa Wilson’s letter to the breakfast team

Hi team,

Just a quick email from a vegetarian who listened to your show yesterday. Generally I avoid the conversations surrounding vegetarianism and veganism because much like political debates or conversations about religion they are often fueled with opinions and end up getting nasty.

I have to say though that your blatant disrespect about the subject probably shows the level of maturity that each of you possess. The snide comments about vegetables feeling pain express a lot about the teams ability to empathize with others and their thoughts.

More than anything it was just disappointing coming from a group of people who have the power to send out positive, tolerant messages. I know it was all veiled in humour and so perhaps your argument would be that we should all lighten up about it.

I know others have emailed in and have enlightened you as to not only the immense suffering that goes on in slaughterhouses across our country, but the environmental impact that factory farming has on our planet, world hunger and sustainability.

So next time you guys feel that you have an important message about tolerance or about environmental sustainability in our developing, poverty and hunger stricken country, please excuse me while I switch over to another radio station.

Alexa Wilson

94.7 breakfast express vegetarian ‘discussion’, and Sone Besters great letter to them

Yesterday morning, the popular Johannesburg 94.7 breakfast express show, which is a light show, chose to bring up vegetarianism/ veganism as a topic for morning ridicule. A very serious topic for a very un serious show.

I listened for a while and got increasingly angry as the presenters and callers as they laughed and mocked the choice not to eat meat. As I was about to turn off my radio they asked for a vegetarian to phone in. I did, and managed a few minutes of airtime on the subject – pro Vegan of course. The presenters, at the time, were fairly respectful, and as the show has a wide listenership, I hope my words touched someone out there.

However one minute after my call, they were back at their disrespectful banter. Here is a radio team that supports killing and the ridicule of belief systems. It’s not a radio station I will be supporting again.

I kept thinking afterwards, how these 3 or 4 radio personalities are influential, and they could really make a difference too the lives of so many animals if they chose to advocate Vegan. I was left saddened by what I heard, saw on their FB page.

Their FB page was littered with this disturbing and deeply disrespectful content…….


There were a few lone voices …..

And then there was Sone Besters letter e mailed to the team …….

Dear Breakfast Xpress Team,
As a regular listener and supporter of your show I was deeply saddened and upset by the way you handled the topic of vegetarianism this morning. I must admit, I did not listen to the whole conversation about it as I was too offended, but I did hear what you had to say from the BBQ bit up until the first listener called in.
If I was not on my way to drop my son off at school, I would have loved to call into the show to give you some much needed insight into the topic. However, because this issue is close to heart I feel it is necessary to write you an email with some information about the topic.
Did you know that a plant-based diet is not only ethical and prevents the suffering of millions of sentient animals each year, but it has an enormous impact on reducing one’s carbon footprint.
One of the arguments raised was that plants have feelings too. That was quite the willy-nilly statement to make as I have never heard of plants forming social structures, tend to its injuries like an animal, nor squirming or screaming in pain and avoiding it at all cost. Furthermore, if you look at statistics it is the meat-eater whom is actually indirectly using more plants than if you would by eating and using them directly.
“Farmed animals are fed more than 70 percent of the grains grown in the U.S. It takes 4.5 pounds of grain to make 1 pound of chicken meat and 7.3 pounds of grain to produce 1 pound of pork. Approximately 700 calories worth of feed are needed to produce just one 100-calorie piece of beef. It is more efficient and economical to eat grains and soybeans—and all the foods that can be made from them—directly rather then feeding them to farmed animals so that we can eat those animals. Around 1.4 billion people could be fed with the grain and soybeans fed to U.S. cattle alone. A 2002 E Magazine article estimated that the amount of feed needed to produce just one 8-ounce steak would fill 45 to 50 bowls with cooked cereal grains.” – It is therefore not surprising that even the UN is starting to recommend a plant-based diet, as due to excessive population growth, eating meat is becoming more and more unsustainable. 
It also takes about “12 times as much land, 13 times as much fossil fuel, and 15 times as much water to produce one pound of animal protein vs. one pound of soy protein” –
Another argument, which I saw was posted by a supporter on your Facebook page was that we were made to eat meat and have canines for that exact purpose. The person has clearly never seen the canines on a gorilla or a hippo, both whom follow strict plant-based diets and consume no meat.
I chose to not include bloody and gory images of animals being abused and slaughtered as that is too offensive for the unsuspecting eye and I do believe that it is your own personal choice whether you want to subject yourself to such imagery. I have also found that such “shock tactics” to educate tends to do more harm than good.
Being vegetarian or vegan is not an easy decision, and as for myself, as an Afrikaans South African whom was raised on meat, meat and more meat, it is more of a sacrifice. Let’s face it, meat is yummy. However, once you become informed about the topic of animal suffering in slaughterhouses your once beloved piece of meat starts symbolizing much much more than just instant gratification. This is not always the case for everyone and for the majority, unfortunately, compassion does not become first priority. Whether this is because of not wanting to be informed as the reality is just too gruesome and upsetting, or whether you do choose to be informed, yet still choose otherwise. However, this decision should still be respected as it remains a personal choice and as such a vegetarian’s choice of his lifestyle should be respected and not ridiculed on radio by public figures whom have considerable influence on people’s perceptions and opinions.
I hope that you find the email informative and would hopefully in future approach the topic with a little more understanding and sensitivity.
Best regards
Soné Bester 
I wonder if Sone will get a response to her well crafted letter?  
Thank you Sone for taking the time to speak out and up for those that don’t have a voice in our society. 
Regardless of wether you heard the show or not, if you would like to express your view on this matter, and let this station know this behavior is not ok, and it is an offensive view too many people out there – here is their e mail adress

The sixth deadly sin committed while living unconciously – supporting the egg industry

Plett and end April 2011 033

Running a Chicken Rescue organisation this is a topic close to my heart. I have rescued many ex battery hens, and I have witnesses first hand over and over again the abhorrent nature of this industry.  An industry that uses and abuses these noble birds in conditions which are wholly inadequate to meet even some of their basic needs, and spits them out to meet a grim end.

The majority of eggs sold in the supermarkets and smaller retail outlets are bought for re sale from factory farming outlets called battery farms. The hens in battery would have been brought up in large overcrowded hatcheries and put into cages with a wire floor space no bigger than an A4 piece of paper for the next year of their lives from laying age (approximately 5 months).  They would have shared this space with 2 to 3 other hens. No grass, no sun, no sky, no dust to dust bath in, no space to exercise or spread their wings. At day 1 they would have had a portion of their beaks seared off with a burning hot blade to eliminate pecking and bullying each other in overcrowded, stressful conditions – no pain meds, after damage care, or anaesthetic.  After a year of egg production under trying conditions, theses hens are sold for pets mince, composite chicken products (chicken nuggets or burgers) or informal slaughter in poorer communities. The final clearing of the battery houses and transportation to their final destination is a callous affair, leaving bruised and broken bodies.

In a medium to small type enterprise, you can have up to 100 000 hens confined. The processing of these numbers leaves little room for compassion or care.


Buying and eating eggs from a battery facility is an absolute ‘no no’. It is an unhealthy practice for both you and the chicken.

So what about free range? The free range egg industry is a minefield to negotiate, as the term ‘free range’ can often refer to barn raised hens. Large warehouse type facilities where the hens can walk around inside, but are still denied natural light, a place to dustbath, grass etc, but also fall victim to massive overcrowding. They still would have had their beaks seared, they will still be cleared out after a year to a year and a half, and they are still disposed of in gruesome ways. Free Range can also mean they have access to an outside area, but again the conditions are crowded, and they are certainly not living in meadow type conditions, Often concrete flooring for easy control of hygiene levels.

I have to stress, the egg industry ONLY makes financial sense in large numbers. There is not a great mark up on eggs, and therefore limiting your financial input  while gleaning as much as you can out of your hens, becomes the target. Once this happens, corners are cut, and your hens become products, not sentient beings with emotional, physiological and psychological needs to fill.

So, is free range better than battery? Yes, it is. Is free range devoid of cruelty? Absolutely not. What is the solution? In my books, its simple – cut eggs out of your diet, then I can ensure I am not buying into this cruelty. If you still feel you need eggs, have two or three of your own rescue laying hens (if you can provide them with what they need), or investigate your local small farm set ups. However, I can tell you, that to date, I have still not found a local producer in South Africa, where all cruelty is eliminated. There are substantially better set ups than others, but nothing I would choose to support.

Rachel day 1 - This is generally what an ex battery hen looks like when we receive them. Abused, a little featherless, damaged feathers, skin tears, often sick, sore feet, long nails, whitish comb, and grey around the eyes, droopy comb - the list continues
Rachel day 1 – This is generally what an ex battery hen looks like when we receive them. Abused, a little featherless, damaged feathers, skin tears, often sick, sore feet, long nails, whitish comb, and grey around the eyes, droopy comb – the list continues
Rachel recovered
Rachel recovered – 6 months later

Read some of our other posts, we have posted a lot on this subject over the years.