Reproductive Health for Hens

Over the past 4 years, you all have rescued and sponsored 300 former egg industry hens. This email will be a little long, but very informative. Egg factory farms use two breeds of hens: Red Sex Linked who lay brown eggs and Leghorns who lay white eggs. Standard practices include sexing day-old chicks and the males get ground up alive, suffocated, or thrown away. The hens are raised and when they are of laying age, they get shipped off to factory farms.

Egg-laying factory farms house hens in “battery cages”, imagine an XL wire dog crate and that’s about the same size. Each hen has an average of 7 x 10 inches of space and the cage is 15 inches tall. The cages are stacked floor to ceiling in huge warehouses. The hens don’t get fresh air, sunlight, or enrichment. They are fed a nutrient-deficient diet and spend their whole life on wire cage floors. When they are babies, they are debeaked in order to blunt their beaks so that they don’t kill each other in highly confined spaces. “Free-range” factory farms aren’t much better. All that’s missing is the cage. The hens still have the same amount of tiny space, dirty conditions, and debeaking.

The two breeds of hens have been genetically selected over hundreds of years to lay more and more eggs. In nature, jungle fowl chicken ancestors lay around 20 eggs a year and factory-farmed hens lay around 300 eggs a year. Their fragile bodies are ravaged by the high load of egg-laying and poor conditions. When the hens are around 1.5-2 years old, they are considered “spent” and the factory farms ship them off to slaughter for pet food.

The “spent” hens are worthless to the industry and oftentimes, factory farms are willing to give them away for free in order to avoid paying to get rid of them. When hens are rescued and come to sanctuaries, they are featherless, with 1.5-inch nails from living on wire cages, and they do not know how to live or find food or water. Many die within days, weeks, or months. Their bodies are full of egg material from the stress of laying 300 eggs a year and many more die from reproductive cancers. This is why the heavy load of egg-laying is so detrimental to hens.

The only way to help these hens survive is to stop the process of laying eggs and allow their bodies to recover. The first hens to arrive at Heartwood Haven arrived on January 1, 2018, and that makes them over 6 years old now (they were 2.5 when they arrived). This is almost unheard of! Hens at Heartwood Haven receive hormonal implants called Suprelorin which stops them from laying eggs. Stopping ovulation allows hens to recover nutritionally. When laying eggs, all nutrition goes into making the egg and the shell. It allows their bones to fill in with calcium and reverses osteoporosis. It also stops ovarian, reproductive cancers, and egg yolk peritonitis that usually kills the hens very yearly.

Every year we host a fundraiser to provide top-notch care to all the residents at the sanctuary and that includes our hen friends. Join us in celebrating the survivors of a cruel industry. You can sponsor a hormonal implant for a hen for just $20 for a month. Pictures are worth a thousand words. The first photo shows the state of hens when they first arrive and below is after a period of recovery.

In addition to living a long healthy life, the hens are also ambassadors and teach visitors about the harmful effects of eggs. 100’s of tour guests have given up eggs completely by just meeting these survivors and hearing their stories. The hens need you in order to receive their next life-giving implant. Will you sponsor a hen by making a donation today?

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