“Operation Chicken Airlift” is what it was dubbed. In reality, it was a “rescue” mission on two fronts. First, it saved an egg producer the cost of slaughter and disposal of thousands of laying hens at the end of their production life. Second, it created a feel-good story for a California animal rescue group.

An anonymous donation of $50,000 covered the cost of an eight-hour, climate-controlled, overnight cross-country private cargo flight for 1,200 live hens from Northern California to Upstate New York in September. Once on the East Coast, the birds were ferried to animal sanctuaries where they will have “perches and nest boxes…lots of grass, even a small area where they can wander into the woods,” gushed a spokesperson from Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary in New York, one of nine animal sanctuaries that took 200 of the birds.

“They will be able to spread their wings and feel the sunshine for the first time in their lives,” the spokesperson continued. “It is a joy and honor and privilege for us to give these chickens a second chance.” One has to wonder if the farm is protected against wild predators that see a tasty meal wandering in the sunshine…or from the icy cold once the grass and woods become snow-covered this winter.

Animal Place in Grass Valley, CA, the organization behind the rescue and shipment of the 1,200 birds to New York, is housing another 1,800 laying hens that will eventually be made available to the public for adoption. The group began reaching out to California egg farmers several years ago asking to take the hens instead of sending them to slaughter. Since then, about 12,000 chickens have been placed, mostly in small batches.

The United Egg Producers applauded the effort as, of course, did the Humane Society of the United States. The egg association noted that consumers love their supersized eggs so farmers are merely answering the demands of the public when hens are slaughtered after they stop producing.

Unfortunately, this very important message was the very last paragraph of a front-page newspaper article that ended on the back page.

October 2013 RENDER | back