Hens

A MIND OF HIS OWN



Our huge steer, Sparky, had a bit of diarrhoea, with blood in his stool. I decreed that he should have no fruit (he’d been having a few feijoas) and no fresh grass for a day while his pooh firmed up. (Yup, this is the stuff you have to talk about when you run an animal sanctuary!) However, Sparky had his own ideas. He smashed straight through our 4-rail wooden corral fence, and demolished the grasses and plants in the garden. It’s now just a 1 rail fence. Sigh. Sparky is in stable lockdown on hay and water until tomorrow,, when we can get the wood to repair it. Lesson learned about telling a 1 tonne steer what to do!

WHERE ARE THEY NOW?



I love getting photos and stories from people who’ve adopted from us. Kathy R sent us this photo, with the comment “Happy little rescue hens and their new friends, plus Russell the Rooster keeping an eye on everything.” Isn’t it wonderful to see them in their new home, enjoying the sun and the good life? I’ve been told that alpacas love hens. Looks like it’s true! Thanks Kathy.

Snuggles



Snuggles was rescued from a battery farm where the tip of her beak was cut off, so she is now unable to pick up food normally. Because battery hens are in such confined conditions, they can attack and cannibalize each other from fear, stress and frustration, and some feel that this harsh treatment is the only solution. But once the hens are free to roam and express their natural behaviour, they are never violent, and are actually quite gentle and loving.

Like her name suggests, Snuggles loves attention, and is the first hen to greet you for the evening feed. In the mornings she gets chicken mash, mixed with grit and water. Because she will lay protein-rich eggs, she also gets dark, leafy organic greens added to her diet, such as silver beet, full of vitamins, minerals and iron.

My Little Friend



My Little Friend also had her beak trimmed, and therefore can’t pick up scattered chicken pellets. The uneven top and bottom beak means that she can’t grasp anything that is not at the back of her mouth. Both Snuggles and My Little Friend get fed from a special bowl that is deep enough so that they can eat, and it is quite cute to watch them both sharing their meal in the barn.

You can see that My Little Friend wears a blue leg band, and Snuggles pink. This is so that we can find our special girls quickly in the flock, and feed them separately. But over the years they have learned pretty quickly, and now they walk right over to their bowl and wait for their meal while the other hens are busy with their food.

Grandma



Grandma is our oldest hen, and despite her age, she still runs around throughout the day, digging up worms and scratching in the grass for seeds. Hens live up to 8-10 years of age, but in battery farms they are slaughtered at 18 months because their egg production temporarily decreases. Thankfully Grandma has had a chance to live well into her twilight years here at the Sanctuary!

Tofu



Tofu is not a chicken, but she certainly thinks she is. Everyday you can find our turkey sitting in the nesting box on some hen’s eggs, hoping they will hatch. When she first came to the sanctuary, she was so little the other hens bullied her, but she quickly outgrew them and now has earned top billing in the pecking order.

Other than sitting on eggs, Tofu enjoys living the life of a free range turkey that includes scratching, wandering around the sanctuary and just spending time with her hen friends.