Rescued Hen Shows Scars Of Commercial Breeding

The broken nails and wear and tear on Sandye’s body were clues to her guardian about the hard life she had led. But when she was introduced to the flock of other rescued animals at the house, Sandye quickly put her past life behind her and happily established herself as the “mother hen.” She even became the protector when one of her companions got sick. Last week Sandye developed a life-threatening condition as a result of her breeding. It showed her owner the cruelty of the life she had previously led.

This story was shared with me by Robert Grillo, founder and editor of Free from Harm.

Sandye (pictured above) is one of Grillo’s four adopted hens that he rescued after her owner at a commercial egg farm didn’t think she was producing enough.

Grillo said, “While I knew little more than this, her physical appearance told me a lot. Some of her nails were missing. She had been debeaked. Her comb on the top of her head looked like it had been cut off. And her feathers were sparse, coarse and hard to the touch. It was not too difficult to conclude that her life had been rough up to this point.”

During the past year Sandye happily settled into life at Grillo’s home with three other adopted hens. She attended to the other birds and her physical appearance dramatically improved. And when one of the other hens became egg bound and sick, Sandye stayed close until the bird was well again.

Last week Grillo noticed that Sandye wasn’t acting like herself, so they made a trip to the veterinarian. Grillo said he thought they would be given medication and be on their way, but the vet explained that Sandye was very sick.

As a result of her breeding for use at a commercial farm, Sandye had developed “fluid buildup and inflammation in her uterus and it was putting pressure on her lungs.” The hen received a variety of injections from hormones to antibiotics and nutrients and had to remain at the veterinary hospital.

“I’ve learned from poultry welfare experts that egg-laying hens like Sandye have been bred to increase egg production well beyond what their normal physiology can handle,” said Grillo.

“Today, the commercial poultry industry breeds them in this way, knowing that a percentage of them will fall ill and die from uterine prolapse and other reproductive disorders, but that’s the calculated loss they are willing to take.”

Hens at commercial farms are forced to lay so many eggs over a one or two year period, they deplete their bodies of calcium and are at risk of developing osteoporosis and other diseases. After they are no longer useful, most farmers sell the hens for slaughter.

According to Farm Sanctuary there are more than 280 million egg laying hens in the U.S. Most are confined in battery cages which are small wire cages stacked in on top of each other and lined in rows inside large warehouses. Under USDA guidelines each hen is allowed four inches of “feeder space” and packed four to a cage. Hens are bred to lay more than 250 eggs per year.

Grillo said when left up to nature, hens lay eggs only a few times a year and nurse their young to adulthood.

Sandye is getting stronger and will overcome this illness. Grillo looks forward to having her back tending to her flock.

Free from Harm is dedicated to educating the public about farm animal issues, factory farming and protecting the planet by making the right food choices.

Picture courtesy of Free from Harm


Maria D'Oporto
Past Member 5 years ago

So sad. glad she is becoming well

Neil A.
Neil A5 years ago

Also thank you Karen S great story

Maria Rivera
María Rivera6 years ago

I agree with Joanne R.

Joanne R.
Jo Roberts6 years ago

I am so very glad that I made the decision to only buy Local Free Range Eggs. I shop with a conscience now and feel so much better for it.

Cynthia Mattera
Cynthia Mattera6 years ago

So animals on Factory Farms are pushed past their normal egg-bearing, milk-producing limits. One they are no longer able to pruce high volumes, they are sent to slaughter. What a horrible life for them and shame on us for putting them thru this!

Go Vegan!

Debra Van Way
Debra Van Way6 years ago

Factory farms need to be banned. I don't know how people working at those places even live with themselves. I quit eating meat when I learned how the animals were mistreated. I have my own happy chickens providing eggs and enjoyment of their company. Glad these chickens were saved and can now have the happy life they deserve.

Pat Coetzer
Pat Coetzer6 years ago

I just want to cry everytime I read of the mistreatment and cruelty that animals have inflicted on them by the human race. I sign petition after petition and hope that I am making a difference, but then I read of something else that someone has cooked up in their sick minds towardsthe cruelty and abuse of animals. When will it all stop.

Diane L.
Diane L6 years ago

KUDOES (and a Green Star) to you, Karen. You too, Kathryn. I've read in a few comments from those more knowledgeable than I am, that the "clicking" of redeeming butterfly points isn't always accomplishing what they're supposed to be doing. I think the feeding of a farm animal was one of those.

Kathryn B.
Kathryn B6 years ago

I had the happy opportunity to tend to 14 hens and 6 roosters at a no-kill sanctuary that had taken them in. What lovely beings they are. One of the roosters liked to chase everybody around but it was fun. The hens laid very small eggs and they were collected by the volunteers. Since it seemed such a shame to waste them, any of the volunteers who wanted them was welcome to them. When I get off the road I will rescue as many as I can and never kill them for meat.

I do not eat meat and only eat eggs from chickens I KNOW for sure are free-range and not forced to over-produce. Since that is hard to determine, I just don't eat eggs. Many of the folks who have some room could benefit greatly from their presence and they sure keep the roaches If you have room, grow a garden and rescue some chickens. They are lovely creatures.

Tanyaisa P.
Tanyaisa P6 years ago

I love redeeming my butterfly points to raise a farm animal humanely......i appreciate the sponsors who pay for our clicks and comments to assure these promises are carried out............thank you for printing this story of the poor lil hen.........