In March 2016 we rescued 13 broiler chickens that had been destined for the meat trade and would have been slaughtered after just 50 days of life. Every month thousands of birds are reared and have their lives cut short to enter the food chain, the ones that are left are those deemed not fit to go into the food chain but are slaughtered anyway.
Whenever they are in the houses, there could be 14,000 birds in a house. A lot of them get dislocated legs, broken legs, and backs damaged, which is why we have some disabled birds.
Unfortunately from our original 13, we lost two right away – they just couldn’t hold on any longer.
When the birds arrived with us, they were overweight and filthy as a result of the grim lives they had led in the intensive broiler chicken system. They were very heavy birds, you’d have thought they were weighted to the ground. Several had badly deformed beaks which meant they struggled to eat or drink and sadly they didn’t survive.
Thanks to their new free-range lifestyle, they underwent a dramatic transformation and we saw them turning into beautiful white birds – contented and happy in the knowledge that they were safe.
More Broilers Rescued
The first group was followed by another batch of 11, of which nine became healthy birds who spent their time pottering about in their garden with their new friend Twinkle the cat.
It had become a big thing for people to take on battery hens, but we hoped people might show an interest in broilers and will maybe take them on as pets. We wanted to make them as popular as battery hens.
One of the things research told us is that they would have no personality. That’s not correct at all. Our birds were inquisitive and they learnt quickly. Within a week, they had learned to jump off the side of the horse box [where they lived temporarily on arrival and follow you out to the garden.
The Broiler's Progress
We were delighted with the progress the rescued broiler chickens were making, since arriving into our care. They became happy, contented, inquisitive birds and each developed their very own very different personalities, especially Bertie the Rooster!
These amazing birds were so very pleasant and affectionate and bear no resemblance to the aggressive, unpleasant birds we had been told to expect. We had also been advised that it was pointless to even attempt to rehabilitate these birds, but we decided to persevere regardless and our efforts did not go unrewarded.
The chickens became a source of intrigue for our supporters and the wider public, with many people stopping off to simply inquire how they were getting along and numerous visitors called at the centre to see these avian miracles for themselves.
Those that visited the Sanctuary found themselves greeted by excited curious and very vocal birds, who flocked to the gates, ever hopeful of receiving a tasty morsel or two. People donated feed, meal worms, grapes, blueberries, strawberries and various vegetables all of which they loved and these were hand-fed to them daily, by the centre manager, Lyn Friel and her dedicated team of volunteers.
The chickens also received physiotherapy and even had their own exercise frame, especially designed by one of the volunteers, to assist those who have walking difficulties and to help to build muscle mass, strengthen their limbs and gradually increase restricted mobility.
There was also an ongoing improvement in their general physical condition as they continued to shed their excess pounds and return to normal weight, skin inflammation was much reduced and feather regrowth encouraging, while Bertie the Rooster was being treated for a heart complaint by specialist chicken vets, Jubilee Veterinary Centre in Newtownards.
Six of the residents were re-homed by one of our supporters Lynda Palmer, who was happy to continue the Crosskennan regime with her new flock. This involved monitoring their condition, egg-laying capabilities and longevity for those who are interested in that aspect.
Click Below to find out about some of Specific Broilers and How you can help us learn more about Broilers!