Saying goodbye

Today I had to have one of my lovely hens put to sleep.  Mavis became unwell a couple of weeks ago and a visit to the vet left us none the wiser as she had no temperature, nor fluid in her abdomen. A course of antibiotics was prescribed and she picked up a little but this morning it was evident she had gone downhill overnight and she was really suffering so I made the heart breaking decision to let her go.

I know you’ll forgive me, therefore, if I dedicate this blog to her and all like her.

I have been fortunate enough to welcome ex battery hens into my home on 3 separate occasions so far and each time, I bring home a handful of very sorry looking birds who are skin and bone, have few or no feathers, whose beaks have been chopped and  their combs are pale and floppy. Yet, as soon as their overgrown toenails touch the grass they instinctively start scratching for bugs and grubs. I have never had to trim their nails because, within a few weeks, they have shortened them on the ground. Also within a few weeks their feathers return and their combs are a beautiful, brilliant red, standing proudly on their heads.

It is so rewarding watching them thrive in their retirement. They are so funny, they are incredibly nosy and always pleased to see me! They chatter away and their favourite thing in the whole world is their own eggs, scrambled and fed back to them! Well, that and the sunshine and dust baths!

They are hardly ever still and I think they must cover a couple of miles each day. Their diet changes to a more natural one;  ignoring the layers pellets, preferring to forage whilst also hoovering up the bird seed dropped from the feeders and enjoying my vegan leftovers!

Unfortunately, they still lay eggs but the lucky ones cease production and I like to think this prolongs their life by a few months.

However, the damage is already done.  Of the 15 girls I have so far given a home, most have succumbed to illness within a year of  being with me; some within a few months.

My current little flock has been with me for just over a year and actually, one; Queenie is from the previous flock so she has been here for 2 years but she has a tumour on her vent so it is just a matter of time.

It’s worth noting here that the egg industry gets rid of it’s hens when their egg laying REDUCES to one egg a day! This means that they are usually 1yr – 18 months old.

If there were death certificates written for each of my girls that have died, they would read ‘natural causes.’ But they are not natural, they are man made.

Exploding ovaries, peritonitis caused by eggs transiting into the abdomen because her tubes are so weakened by the over production of eggs, and, the most common in my flocks: organ failure. Organ failure in birds aged 2yrs – 2.5yrs, whose natural lifespan would be around 10 years. These are man made ‘natural causes’ because of man’s incessant greed for eggs. These poor souls are bred and fed to over produce eggs to the detriment of their bodies.

‘That’s why I buy free range’ I hear people say. Free range hens are still bred to overproduce eggs so their fate is the same as these ex batts. 

As vegan activists we often concentrate on the fate of the male chicks in the egg industry, quite rightly, but the cost for the egg laying hens, free range or not, is huge suffering  followed by premature death. 

There are no references in this blog because I am the reference.

I witness how these malnourished, deprived, scared little girls arrive from their concentration camp and blossom into beautiful, confident, curious, happy chickens, each with their own unique character.

I witness their premature demise as human demand for their eggs takes its toll on their bodies, and I mourn for each and every one of the millions of them that don’t make it to retirement and, instead, endure a year of incarceration followed by death.

We fight against factory farming but egg laying chickens are used as individual factories. 

How dare we treat other species like this? Who do we think we are?!