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Helen was found wandering on the streets of Manhattan. She was thin and missing quite a few feathers. Almost certainly, Helen was a former battery cage hen, meaning that she was used for egg production, a bleak existence in which hens are kept in overcrowded wire cages, never seeing the sun or feeling the ground under their feet. Helen was also severely de-beaked. De-beaking is an egg industry practice used to keep hens crowded into tiny battery cages from pecking each other due to fear and stress. De-beaking is done without anesthesia, and it is an inexact practice—often the beaks are cut back so severely that the hen is not able to eat properly. When Helen got to the farm, we fed her lots of special mashes, to help her gain weight. Even when she was assimilated into the main flock, she’d come running when one of us would come through the gate. We’d pick her up and take her into the med center for yet another special mash.

In the time she’s been at the farm, Helen has gained weight and healed. Like all hens, she loves dustbathing and laying in the sun and pecking through grass. And Manhattan, with it’s wire cages, dark and filthy living quarters and suffering, are a million miles away.