While some people might wish to believe otherwise, 99.9 percent of chickens in the U.S. are raised in factory farms. According to Farm Sanctuary, at any given time, more than 300 million hens are being exploited for their eggs – and that is in the U.S. alone. The hens in factory farms look nothing like the happy birds you may see on egg cartons and they spend their unnaturally short lives in tiny, crowded battery cages.
Although the natural lifespan of a chicken is between five and eight years, laying hens are considered “spent” by commercial standards between 18 months and two years of age. Once they get the label, “spent” hens can be sent to be slaughtered, but, more often, they are killed by gassing with high-concentration of carbon dioxide. In rare instances, however, the gas fails to kill the birds.
A miracle like that happened to Aria. In the spring of 2017, a supervisor at a rendering plant in Los Angeles was surprised to hear noises coming from a pile of dead gassed chickens. There, he found Aria – “clucking for help”.
Throughout the 20 years of working at the farm, the supervisor had never encountered another survivor of the kind. He was mesmerized by Aria’s will to live – and so, instead of sending her to be gassed again, he saved her and brought her to his home.
Once at her new temporary place, the hen was taken care of by the supervisor’s wife – Aria got food and water and was kept safe. But it was clear that she needed a permanent place, one where she could live her life among other chickens.
A new home she needed and a new home she found – Aria is now living at Farm Sanctuary’s Southern California Shelter.
Similar to many hens forced to live in battery cages, Aria had some common health problems – she was debeaked, had overgrown nails, was underweight, and had poor feather condition. But thanks to a nutritious diet, access to sunlight, and great individualized care, her condition has already greatly improved.
Aria now lives in a flock of more than forty chickens at the shelter. She loves dust-bathing and running around the yard – something that seems like the very minimum but is an amazing change to the hen hitherto shut off in a small cage. She is yet distrusting of people, even those who feed her – but that is perfectly understandable and, as her carers emphasize, as the extraordinary survivor she is, she will now always be “safe, loved, and well cared for”!
To learn more about Farm Sanctuary, click here.
All image source: Animals of Farm Sanctuary