There was an urgent call out on a local vegan page to re-home 150+ ex battery hens within a 48 hour period. Having had hens myself for almost 3 years now and friends that have chicken refuges, I knew a lot of people in the chicken world. I made some calls and had found homes for over half of them in just under an hour.

Miss Diva and her friends after their rescue.

My girlfriend and I were both at full capacity when it came to rehoming, with twice the amount of chickens we had the capacity for at home. We decided to foster 7 of the hens, who would be going up to a new home in the north in a few weeks time.  We wanted them to hang out with us and our girls, and learn how to chicken!

Miss Diva after her rescue.

We brought our 7 fosters home, and opened up the doors of the cages they travelled in. They all stood there bewildered, seeing open grass, other chickens, trees, blue sky, sunshine; all of it for the first time (except for on the back of my pickup truck). 

With clipped beaks, and almost no feathers to their names, we allowed them to come out all in their own time, and one by one they surely did, taking their first ever steps forward without meeting a cage wall. 

Miss Diva enjoying eating her breakfast.

These girls had just spent the last 2 years of their lives in cramped tiny cages, forcing out eggs day in day out, with poor diets, lack of any natural resources, or abilities to practice their instincts. Their poor bodies suffered dramatically. 

There was this one girl though. The first one out and the most confident of them all, who was very noticeable from the rest. Her beak had been cut incredibly short; so short I wasn’t sure how on earth she had managed to eat and thrive this far. She had these piercing orange eyes, and she’d stop and pause for a moment to look properly at you, with a tender blink, as if to say “thank you”. 

Miss Diva in her cosy bed.

She was the first to try to peck at a piece of cut melon. For the first time ever, she was eating something other than simple grain. She didn’t know how to use her beak to peck at it properly, nor how to grasp a hold of grass to eat, how to eat worms, what blueberries or mangoes were. She got to know all of this within her week with us, and she quickly became her own.

Author:
Charlie

Charlie runs a small micro-sanctuary, with 18 chickens in her tropical garden in Cairns (far north Queensland). They have wonderful lives, with bountiful food, and space to roam, dust bathe, love and grass graze. They sleep in a coop with fans in the summer, and the special few with disabilities have memory foam pillows to rest on at night. No girl is left unloved or uncared for. Charlie’s chickens are her family. Most of them were destined for chicken farms, or have been rescued and retired at Charlie’s because of disabilities, such as blindness and broken limbs, or illnesses, such as liver failure and heart disease, and couldn’t be re-homed elsewhere. Charlie also cares for our native wildlife, with sometimes up to 50 birds in her care at any one time. Medication and feed rounds are always ongoing, and the cleaning of bowls, aviaries and cages is never ending.

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