Chickens rescued from a factory farm gain following
Two chickens rescued from an Auckland factory farm are on their way to becoming Instagram stars. SAFE says they represent the individuals behind the 125 million chickens bred and killed for meat every year in New Zealand.
The chickens named Womble and Bumble were rescued from the farm during an investigation that started in November. The two baby birds were found close to death, stranded on their backs and unable to get up. They received extensive veterinary treatment before moving to their life-long home at a sanctuary.
SAFE Head of Campaigns Marianne Macdonald says these chickens wouldn’t have survived if they’d been left behind. They have now been able to enjoy months of freedom which was denied to the rest of the birds in that shed.
"We set up this Instagram channel to give a light-hearted insight into the very different personalities of these two chickens. Kiwis are following Womble and Bumble as they learn to interact with the world outside the factory farm," says Ms Macdonald.
"We’ve been showing animal lovers that Womble and Bumble are just as much individuals, with a range of emotions, as any cat or dog. We’re just not as good at deciphering their behaviour, compared with our more familiar feline and canine companions. We know chickens have the capacity to suffer, so they deserve the same consideration of their welfare needs."
Every day in sheds around New Zealand, thousands (1) of chickens bred for meat either die of heart failure or are killed by workers because they are too lame to walk. This death-rate occurs even before they reach full size at six weeks of age when they are trucked to slaughter.
"These two chickens are ambassadors for their ‘fast-grow’ breed. It’s a breed that has been selectively manipulated over decades to grow explosively fast, leading to an appalling cost to the birds’ welfare," adds Ms Macdonald
"We call this breed of bird ‘SAD’ chickens because they are sick and deformed. They are non-survivors and are bred to suffer."
After several months at the sanctuary, Bumble suffered a neurological condition that meant she was unable to walk unaided. A special chicken therapy chair was secured, and she received daily laser treatment in an attempt to regain her movement. However, despite the best possible care for her disability, she recently succumbed to symptoms of congestive heart failure.
"Very sadly Bumble had to be euthanised recently because ensuring that she had a good quality of life was the top priority for her carers," says Ms Macdonald.
"Even in her short life, Bumble outlived the other chickens left behind in the factory farm, three-times over."
The natural lifespan of a chicken is around eight years, but it is rare for a ‘meat’ breed chicken to survive more than a year, even if given the best of care. Womble is still going strong, and her adventures can be followed at @womble_and_bumble.