After 18 months of living with 60,000 other hens at a free range egg farm, Pirate found herself watching all her shed mates being chased, caught and thrown into a truck to be taken to slaughter. Pirate hid and survived with a handful of other hens who dodged the rough hands of the workers. She found it hard to walk because her feet were encased in huge manure balls that she had picked up from the shed floor. You see, free range egg sheds have floors which have circular indentations in them to help with manure collection. The hens stand in these indents and then their feet are encased in hard manure forever more.
For the next week, she sat in that shed with 30 other hens and they all searched for food and water in desperation, but there was none left for them. They all waited in terror for the foxes to come into the open shed door at night and eat them. Pirate slowly drifted out of consciousness. She wasn’t able to see the people who came into the shed one night and rescue some of her friends. She wasn’t able to see that the next day, workers came in and broke the necks of every remaining hen they could get their hands on. She didn’t see the pile of dead, starving chickens with broken necks at the door. She didn’t see when the rescuer came back that night to save the rest of the girls, only to find most of them dead by the hands of the workers. She didn’t feel getting picked up and put in the car and she didn’t feel being put onto a comfortable bed in front of a heater. It took her carer so long to get the mounds of manure off her feet.
Pirate was so sick, it was thought she wouldn’t make it. Her amazing carer worked around the clock with this girl to help her get back to health. She had one eye that wasn’t able to open, hence her name, “Pirate”. She spent a good month recovering by the heater which earned her the nickname of “heater chicken”.
All chickens like Pirate want is a chance to live free of fear and pain, with the choice to live as they choose. Using them for eggs and meat takes all these choices away from them. They aren’t ours to use as we please.
Source: Tamara Kenneally Photography