Abandoned Hens Rescued from Egg Factory
Hens rescued from Maui Fresh Eggs factory written by Laurelee Blanchard
Some years ago, a 100,000-hen egg factory shut down. A month later, I happened to be in the neighborhood and noticed the factory's gates were open, so I drove my car far inside the giant compound just to make sure no live hens were left behind. There, I saw dozens upon dozens of emaciated hens walking around near the warehouses. They must have somehow escaped slaughter the day the egg factory closed. I also saw countless dead hens lying on the ground after apparently succumbing to starvation and dehydration during the past month. Farther into the compound, a man working in a gigantic warehouse which housed row-upon-row of battery cages questioned what I was doing there. I told him I was concerned about the chickens asked whether these remaining hens were being given food or water. He said they were not, and agreed to let me return that night with my cat carriers to retrieve them.
These hens had suffered. Their days and nights were spent crammed tightly inside cages too small for them to move freely or even spread their wings. The tips of their beaks had been seared off with a hot iron to prevent fighting injuries caused by stress-induced aggression. The de-beaking procedure is extremely painfully to the hens because the beak contains nerve endings. Some are unable to eat after being de-beaked and starve to death.
On closing day, hens were sold in groups of four with their legs bound tightly with twine, which can cause permanent paralysis to the hens' legs. Leftover hens, not sold to the public, were killed by having their necks snapped or being buried alive.
I contacted friends who live on farms in Haiku and Kula, and asked them to help rescue and provide homes for these abandoned hens. One couple had already taken eight hens the day the factory closed.
That night, six of us went to the egg factory after dark and met up with the on-site manager. It was pitch black inside the long, narrow sheds, so we used head lamps and flash lights to illuminate the hellish place. The stench of manure and chicken corpses was overpowering. We were stepping on dead hens to reach those who were still alive. One bird had become stuck between some bars and died a slow, miserable death. Others had been run over by vehicles.
It took a few hours to locate all the live hens and roust them from their sleep. They screamed in terror as they were plucked up and place inside cat carriers. They didn't know how their lives were about to change. At the end of the night, sixty-four hens were saved. The manager said we got them all.
The rescued hens went to wonderful new homes where they were loved and cared for. The people who adopted them described the joy the chickens experienced as they, for the first time in their lives, felt the rain on their backs and the sun on their feathers. Liberation takes on new meaning as these gentle hens get to feel the free breezes of Maui after their cruel incarceration.