The first year of our Giving Back Program was a great success! We raised over $1400 for local pet rescues, and can’t wait to beat that number this year!
Our January Rescue of the Month is Chicken Run Rescue. It’s one I didn’t know existed until I started researching rescues, and I just love what they’re doing. Chickens are often only seen as a commodity, a food source, it’s easy to overlook how intelligent, gentle and emotional they are. It’s becoming more common to see chickens in urban environments like a backyard coop in the city. While this is great for those birds in responsible, caring homes, it’s also resulted in an increase of unwanted chickens (mostly roosters) ending up in shelters or killed.
Half of all chicks turn out to be roosters, and many people and companies see no value in them so they are immediately destroyed. The hens do make it, but their egg production peaks around 18 months, when most of them are abandoned or destroyed as well. Birds that end up in animal control are generally victims of neglect, abuse and abandonment. And believe it or not, there’s still people using chickens for fighting and ritual sacrifice.
Mass production “factory farms” have little regulation, and most laws that do apply to livestock animals do not apply to birds. The statistics are shocking. According to sustinabletable.org, about 98% of chickens used in egg production live in a cage about the size of a half sheet of paper. (the US has the world’s lowest standards for minimum space requirements) They virtually stay in one spot their entire lives. Broiler chickens are generally housed on concrete floors. With no ability to use their natural behaviors in foraging for food, they can become aggressive and peck each other to death. To prevent this, chicks are often “debeaked.” Many are genetically altered to produce an unnatural ratio of meat to bone, and often suffer broken legs.Cramped quarters also spread disease quickly and the waste produced by factory farms is continually harming our environment. If you want to read about how factory farms actually kill their animals, click here.
Chicken Run Rescue is the only urban chicken rescue of its kind, and depends solely on donations and art sales to function. Check out this great video and story on Mary from MPR News. They’ve found homes for over 700 birds since 2001, and currently have about 20 birds awaiting adoption. A group of 8 hatchlings came in from a school….. they were part of a project on hatching eggs, and then dumped when they were no longer needed. I went into their coop with them, and they’re so friendly! Curiously trying to eat things from my coat and boots, hopping up on my arm. Here’s a couple from that group.
When I was younger, I showed chickens at the fair for 4-H. I always had Bantams, and this bonded couple totally reminded me of mine. Their names are Damlo and (appropriately) Sarah! They’re really quiet and little and sweet. Definitely made me miss my chicken friends of the past.
This big boy is Larry, an “Americauna” born earlier this year. He’s huge and handsome, wears a beard, and flaunts about every color in the rainbow. He gave me some awesome shots!
If you’d like to learn more about Chicken Run Rescue, or you think a companion chicken is for you (apparently, it’s becoming common to have chickens as indoor birds, like parakeets and cockatiels!) check out their website here. You’ll also find information about keeping chickens, where to get them vetted, and how to make a donation.
I’ve learned so much from Chicken Run Rescue, and I hope you will too :)