By Chris R.
On May the 4th we celebrated International Respect for Chickens Day. This is a special day for many of the Valley’s residents, with over fifty chickens calling the Sanctuary home. Rescues from both broiler farms, egg farms and backyard poultry breeders reside in the Valley.
|A Sanctuary rooster with deformed feet as a result of selective breeding for meat|
Chickens are highly intelligent and social birds. Each have different personalities, favourite foods and particular chicken friends. They are a major discussion point on our Sanctuary tours, with our tour guides working hard to educate visitors about how special our chicken family is.
|Some of the PVAS chicken family|
Over half of the Sanctuary’s chickens are roosters. These boys are considered a waste product of the egg industry. Their inability to lay eggs and tendency to crow early each morning are undesirable traits for these poor fellows, who are often killed or dumped at a young age. The Sanctuary's roosters have many stories – some are in care as a result of irresponsibly managed school hatching programs, several have been dumped in parks or on roadsides, while others were rescued from organic farms where they were unwanted. A few have even fallen off trucks onto the road.
Equally sad is the story for hens. Although hens are kept for egg production purposes for a short time, these ladies are commonly considered a waste product at around 18 months of age when their laying ability begins to decline. Laying hens have significantly shortened life spans and numerous health issues as a result of selective breeding for continual egg production. Then there are the broiler birds, with both roosters and hens killed at just six weeks for meat, never seeing sunshine or leaving their sheds.
Unfortunately, backyard chicken breeding may be just as sad as those involved in production environments. Many people who wish to have ‘happy hens’ at home are unaware that for hens to be hatched, there is the hatching of equal numbers of ‘unhappy roosters’ with no economical purpose and little prospect of rehoming.
To learn more about the plight of chickens and how to help, see http://www.unleashed.org.au/animals/chickens.php Want to learn more about chicken friendly meals? Check out our ‘recipes’ tab in the blog index for loads of delicious recipes that don’t hurt these fabulous birds.
On this day of respect for chickens it’s a good opportunity to reflect on how we can make the futures of our feathered friends kinder - it can all start with us.