battery hen rescue - a personal perspective
A personal account of a hen rescue from one of the newest members of the Farmwatch Action Team.
When Farmwatch included me in their plans to visit a battery farm this year, my initial thoughts were mixed. Being Farmwatch’s newest member (as well as being so new to the animal rights movement) meant this was an entirely unfamiliar experience.
I was scared of what I was about to see, anxious about any potential reception at the farm, but I was also excited. Having spent some time on broiler farms, this was going to fill an important gap in my first-hand experience of chicken farming.
When we arrived at the facility, the only greeting we received was from whispering trees scattered amongst dark farming sheds. There was an ominous feeling about the massive structures. As much as I knew about what was within them, the exterior showed no signs of life or movement. It was like arriving in a ghost town.
After treading through acres of wet and muddy land, we entered one of the nondescript battery hen sheds. I immediately noticed how dark the interior was. There was a huge sense of emptiness inside the shed that was broken only by the anxious sounds made by the several thousand of its occupants. They were existing, but how anyone could consider them living within this darkness was beyond my comprehension.
As I was accompanied past rows and rows of captive battery hens I questioned the sanity of the people who support this system. The hens were clearly cramped, stressed and completely incapable of exercising or displaying any form of natural behaviour.
They were standing on uncomfortably thin cage wiring, were unable to stretch their wings and they definitely appeared to be resentful of the situation they were in. The birds’ squawks had a domino effect. One bird’s stressful cries would set off the birds in its own cage, then the occupants of the nearest cage until the entire facility echoed with an orchestra of misery and suffering. It immediately became clear that there had never been and never would be any rest for these poor animals, and that the only peace they would ever experience would be the release of death when some human decided that they were no longer productive.
I picked apart the process of egg production in my head and became angry at every person that contributed to its cruelty. The farmers, the consumer and any person who gained from the system were all equally to blame and I wanted them all to know how disgustingly cruel it is.
We saw several dead chickens and I wondered how they met their fate. Was it malnourishment? Disease? Stress? Injury? Or was their spirit so broken that they simply gave up? My anger quickly turned to sadness as my thoughts deepened. We selected several hens that we deemed in need of urgent rescue and placed them carefully into boxes before making our exit. The hens were taken to a safe location to live in peace and comfort until a loving home could be found for them.
As the adrenaline and anxiety faded from the visit, my negative emotions turned to that of joy. We weren’t able to save the thousands of hens still captive within the facility, but a number of hens were now able to live out the rest of their natural lives in comfort.
People have said before that the problem is too big and that the movement isn’t strong enough to make a difference, but I call bullshit. This time, Farmwatch made a difference to the lives of several dozen beings and the footage obtained from the visit will further expose the farm industry’s cruelty.
I also realised how little is needed of us to make a difference. All it takes is the will to contribute, the patience to persevere and the ability to work as part of a team. I want the public to know how much their decisions matter. Voting with their wallet by shopping ethically, going vegan, loving a rescued animal and donating to organisations like Farmwatch are all ways they can help. The power to make a difference is in everyone’s hands.
More information can be found on our news release for this rescue.