While many may recognize July 4th as America’s famous Independence Day from now on in we will recognize it as Independence Day for Chickens, as history will record it as the first day of Australia’s largest farmed animal rescue. Almost 1,500 laying hens destined for slaughter received a last minute reprieve when a battery hen farmer had a change of heart. Pledging the cages would never again hold a chicken the farmer nervously sought assistance to rehome the hens to safe and loving homes. At first we thought it was some kind of a joke, but meeting with the farmer at a secret location we believed him to be genuine and so on July 4th 2012 Australia’s largest farmed animal rescue began.
But could we take them all? The struggle was on between my heart and my head and would keep me awake for the ensuing nights as my dreams were filled with logistics and realities and often took me to a place I did not want to dwell. Each night as I shut the shed door knowing I could not safely fit another hen in our vehicles it was with tender sadness I promised the hens I had left behind I would return. And return we did each day until the last hen was gently lifted from her prison at 12.45 pm on Sunday July 8th.
To be able to stretch your wings, scratch about in the soil, dust bathe, lay your eggs in private and choose your own social life- these fundamentals are the most important things to a hen yet remain an impossible dream for 12 million battery chickens. Walking through the shed, day upon day, I couldn’t help but wonder, how have we come to this. To see those gentle birds whose only crime was to be born of a species we could so easily overpower and possessed with a voice we cannot understand so hideously confined was heartbreaking indeed. Many hens were severely debeaked, suffering feather loss and all with hideously overgrown toenails. At first I thought it was my awkward placement down of each hen on the straw lined vehicle that caused her to tip backward then forward then stretch out a wing as if catching her sea legs but on consideration it was the almost 2 years of confinement on a sloping wire cage that was the culprit.
Each night as I made the long trek home with my cargo I thought of all the people I passed on the way going about their lives, some going home from work, others out for the evening, some shopping, others just cruising and none giving even a passing thought to a sentient being they had paid someone to put in a cage. Part of me just wanted to sit and sob, but sobs would change nothing. While it is convenient to think laws and our lawmakers will fix things for animals reality shows this is not the case, only our actions will. Chicken Run 2012 has proved many things, none the least there is never a point in your life when you cannot say I am not going to be a part of this anymore.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the people who have come to the fore and helped make this incredible rescue possible. But it is not over yet, while several hundred chickens have already found safe and loving homes, many many more are awaiting that special someone and our costs are enormous. Please if you can make a donation today to support our work in creating a better world for all.
Battery cages for chickens are well on their way to the dustbin of history as the lid has now been cranked well open.