Chicken farming was not something that I thought I would ever do, but rescuing the chickens from the battery farm and watching the flourish is satisfying. The battery farms on the island are brutal, and as soon as the chickens stop laying daily, then they get rid of "old" stock. This involves selling off the chickens at 50c each for one day. After this day they gas what is left, which is thousands of birds.
When you first see the batteries they are in an awful state, they have been kept in tiny cages, with no natural light or airflow, and they are forced to stand day in day out on wire flooring. Now chickens dont make me go all soppy like some people, but I still feel for these birds. Unfortunately, battery farms are legal, and many people have no idea where their eggs come from.
We go to the battery farm as often as we can to release a few hundred birds. This is a drop in the ocean, but helps a little, and that is something. The chickens are in fact good layers, and pay their way. Every part of the process is horrible, as the guys working in the factory have no care that these are live animals, and will cram as many as 15 chickens into one small cardboard box.
I appreciate it is education, and that these guys have been taught this is right, but come on common sense has to kick in somewhere. They also carry them by their feet which always makes me cringe, but all I can do is pay, cringe and get out of there as fast as possible. If I spend too long thinking about the thousands that will die that day I would never return.
So all boxed and ready to go the chickens make the journey home, often
When you open the boxes and tip out the chickens, they have no idea what to do, they have never seen earth, or straw, or other animals. Everything is a threat, and some die of shock early on. Others move slowly around unsure of what threatening stick or leaf will appear next.
The batteries always take a while to adjust, and we have found that where you release them, is where they stay for days, They will stand in the same position, laying right in that spot. which means there are eggs all over the floor, like a giant Easter egg hunt, without the hiding.
After a few weeks they begin to settle, and follow the other chickens that have been through the rehab program. Some dont make it, and simply cannot cope and die, for the others, they now have a long and happy life, free ranging, eating and laying when they feel like it. We sell the eggs to help pay the feed bill, and although they will never sell enough to cover the whole thing, they do well.