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15 Hens Are Free at Last

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Just outside of Philadelphia, a small farm posted an advertisement for “soup chickens,” valuing them at a mere $3 each. The man had been exploiting the chickens for their eggs and generating profit from their bodies. But now that the chickens are 18-24 months old and their egg production has slowed, he decided to sell them for cheap meat. In his mind, their lives weren’t worth sparing. 

Thankfully, a kind woman named Christine from Second Chance Chickens Microsanctuary saw the ad and was able to convince the man to give some of the birds to her. That’s when she called Woodstock Farm Sanctuary for help. So we began to prepare our coops for our new flock – the Philly Girls. 

Because they had been kept in quarantine already and all passed their health checks, when they arrived this weekend we were able to introduce the Philly Girls to our Cali Girls – a flock of egg-laying hens from California who we rescued a few years back. 

Though they are in better shape than expected, it’s a miracle that they survived as long as they did. They had no heat lamps, no bedding, and were kept in very crowded quarters. They are all debeaked, some so badly that they barely have any of their top beak left at all. Many have bald patches from where they picked their own feathers out of stress. And they are terrifyingly skinny – the vets are surprised they’ve made it this long. If it had been a just a few more days, these girls likely would have frozen to death in the sub-zero temperatures that we had last week. 

These are backyard chickens from a small, family farm. And although those words may conjure images of humane treatment, the suffering remains the same. The Philly Girls were clearly born in an industrial hatchery – a place where millions of baby chicks are mass produced to be sold as egg-laying hens. Chicks are tossed around like objects. They never get to meet their mothers and the males are killed at just a few days old because they are useless to the industry. The remainder are debeaked. Once they’re ordered, the hatchery ships them in the mail – to small farms and factory farms alike – with a few extra chicks, knowing some will die in transit. And once their reproduction cycle slows, they are killed.

While the Philly Girls were up for sale and buying them would have guaranteed sanctuary, we do not condone purchasing animals. They are not objects. By asking for them to be surrendered, their rescuer made it clear that she viewed the Philly Girls as the individuals they are, rather than items to be bought. And had they been purchased, the man would have used that money to buy another flock of chickens to use and abuse just the same, perpetuating the vicious cycle of animal agriculture fueled by the almighty dollar.

The Philly Girls – Edwina, Cassandra, Simara, Lillith, Charley, Jacqualine, Brooke, Icky, Anna, Pigeon, Quinn, Rosemary, Tweety, Zelda and Galicia – are now safe at Woodstock Sanctuary. They will never be exploited again; we value them for who they are, not for the profit they can generate. After just a few days, they’re already starting to grow their feathers back and have made friends with the Cali Girls who are showing them how chickens should live.

We were able to rescue this flock only because we reached our year-end fundraising goal last week. Your support made this rescue possible and we couldn’t have done it without you.  

Please follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat for updates on how our new flock is adjusting to life at Woodstock Farm Sanctuary. 

We’ve committed to caring for the Philly Girls for their whole lives. If you are able, we would be so grateful if you could make a donation to help care for these girls – today and in years to come. 

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