Backyard chickens are becoming more popular, and if you have the yard space they are a very rewarding fun pets to have. I have had chickens for about 4 years, and in April we got our first rescue chickens. Most people understand what a rescue pet is if it is a dog or cat but are less sure about what a rescue chicken is.
This is a clip from a podcast we did. I have just included the chicken part here
I had heard about rescuing chickens when I was in the UK and read more about it in my It is not Easy being Green Book So when we were looking for new chickens I googled to see if there were any rescues in Cape Town. I came across Cape Town Rescue Battery Hens They have a Facebook page too
Rescue battery hens Cape Town is a not for profit campaign facilitating the re-homing of caged battery hens when they are due for cull at the end of their commercially viable use at the age of only 72 weeks.
What this means is that the birds that are used to produce the eggs that you like for breakfast are deemed useful for 72 weeks from when they start laying eggs at about 16 weeks. These birds are then sold to be culled. They may still have many years which they can still live but they are not deemed profitable any more.
Their short life span is not the true horror, the true tragedy is what those 72 weeks are like for these birds. They live in tiny cages that are too small for them to stretch their wings, they are fed enough to stay alive but no more. Their cages are not cleaned until the whole batch is changed in 72 weeks. The stand in poop and live in a shed filled with the smell of ammonia from the large amount of faeces. This is an idea of the conditions in which they live
We don’t like to be confronted with the cost to another living creature that our demand for cheap food causes. I am not going to get on my high horse about getting everything organic or becoming vegan etc because we are not vegan, but we are trying to be more and more conscious about where our food comes from and make sure that the animals were not in cruel living conditions. For me the best way to know where my eggs come from is to collect them myself from my girls in the garden. But this is not possible for everyone.
However everyone can vote with their Rands, please please buy free range, cage free eggs. The cost of caged eggs is huge on these sweet birds. Once you have had chicken you know how loving and sweet these pets can be.
I contacted The Cape Town Rescue and put our order in for 5 hens. We went to collect our girls with our dog crate and Tescos Box. I knew they would be in a sorry state but to see it first hand is different story, it was really sad to see these poor birds with so few feathers and who were scared to death. Rachel picked our 5, this is them in the crate before I let them out. Remember up to this point they will never have felt the sun on them or walked on ground.
They were very shy and in rather a sorry state
Henny Penny was so scared that she would not come out of the coop, she just hid away
The next day they were a bit braver and ventured out into their big grass area around their coop. Look at them lifing their wings to sunbathe, they have never felt sun before and they walked really funny in the beginning.
If you are considering having backyard chickens I would highly recommend getting ex battery chickens, giving them a new life is amazing to watch and they reward you with wonderful healthy eggs.
I will do another blog post to show you how they are have improved