No joke, I just received an email from the Global Animal Partnership (GAP) asking Animal Place to rectify what they felt was an error in our reporting.
We are happy to do that!
Let me back up. Earlier this week, we posted about a cruelty confiscation involving chickens in Sacramento. More than 200 hens and roosters were left without food and water, and then rescued by the City of Sacramento Animal Services. We posted on Facebook imploring our supporters to assist us in finding placement for the 130 roosters (hens were all placed).
We reported that the chickens originated from a farm that is certified by Global Animal Partnership’s 5-Step Program. Subsequently we received an email from GAP that read, in part:
“The chickens taken into custody by County Animal Care Services earlier this week from the business at ADDRESS REDACTED were *not* from a Step-rated farm certified under Global Animal Partnership’s 5-Step Animal Welfare Rating Standards.”
In the interest of honest reporting, we immediately contacted the person responsible for securing the confiscation of the chickens and verified the name of the farm from which the birds originated.
Confirmation was received that the birds did in fact come from a producer that is Step 3 (chickens) and Step 5 (chickens) certified by GAP.
We sure were! Either GAP was lying or there was something amiss with the situation.
Further investigation revealed a gap in the GAP program.
One producer can operate multiple farms and treat birds differently on each farm.
Let’s say there is a producer called CF Ranch. They own or contract with 20 farms, raising chickens for slaughter. Let’s say five of their farms are “Step 5” certified by GAP, another 10 are “Step 3” certified, and the rest are sold to whomever the farmer wants.
The birds on the Step 3 and Step 5 farms must be treated inaccordance with the standards set forth by GAP. The rest of the birds can be de-beaked and sold to places that starve them for four days and illegally slaughter them, apparently. Oops!
Let’s also say that on this imaginary CF Ranch’s website, there is no mention of birds who are not covered by any standards. Instead, their website is covered with Step 5 this or Step 3 that or “we care deeply about animal welfare” with a bevy of links to the GAP standards.
Well, then you have a picture of what happened to these chickens.
The farm that sold these birds to an individual who left them without food and water for four days has at least 16 chicken farms and 6 turkey farms. Some are certified Step 3 (lower rating), some are Step 5 (the highest), and apparently some are “Stepless” and do not adhere to any of GAP’s requirements.
So, here is our clarification: These chickens originated from a producer that raises birds in accordance with standards set forth by the Global Animal Partnership…AND they raise birds not in accordance with those standards. The latter applies to the birds who ended up in a dark, lonely room without food and water. Good luck figuring out the difference!
Welfare improvements are that – welfare improvements. They are meaningful in only one context – until we achieve a just, vegan world, improving the conditions in which farmed animals are treated is necessary. Welfare improvements are not a solution to ending the exploitation and oppression of farmed animals. They are tools thatshould ONLY be employed with a goal of liberation and eventual non-use of farmed animals. At least that is the position Animal Place takes.
This is one reason we will not name the farm. Animal exploiters see the bottom line. It’s money. And even the farms with a strong desire to be less cruel to nonhumans while they are alive still must make a living. To make a living off farmed animals requires the death of that animal and both measurable and immeasurable suffering.
Consumers can help change this by choosing kinder, most just food choices whenever possible. Animal Place believes that the most just and kind food choice a person can make is to eliminate animal products from their diet. Go vegan.
A few weeks ago Cheap Vegan did a post explaining the various reasons why vegans don’t eat fish. Since that post, I have been asked the same question about eggs. While I did post a short article about eggs here, I decided to give a more in depth look at other reasons why eggs aren’t all their “cracked” up to be.
Here is some insight as to the various reasons why vegans don’t eat eggs.
Ammonia emissions is one of the biggest environmental problems in commercial egg farms. The ammonia released from chicken manure not only effects the air quality for the chickens and the farm workers, but the run off makes its way into our water supply when disposed of.
There is also a matter of land/resources that are used when raising any animal for food. Land is not only allocated for raising chickens, but also to grow food to feed them. It takes about 42-52 square meters (over 420 sq ft) of land to raise about 36 chickens or 1kg of egg protein.
Although the word “cage-free” may sound appealing, in many ways these farms actually add greater environmental problems in terms of efficiency. It takes much more land to make significantly less eggs on a free-range farm. This not only includes space to run around, but because these birds are healthy and moving, they have to eat more. This means more land must be used for chicken feed that could be used for growing food for humans. Not only that, but a study from the Poultry Science Organization and Iowa State University suggests that cage-free farms may still be subject to ammonia emission and nutrient run-off during rain.
While non-cage houses may be slightly better for the hens, they are less efficient and make less profit. Because the hens body heat is not as concentrated as a battery caged farm where hens are stacked on top of each other, it wastes more energy to heat non-caged houses.
Well before chickens are subject to battery cages, they are born in a hatchery. Which sounds adorable. Unfortunately the reality is much sadder than what we might imagine.
An average hatchery will hatch about 55 million chickens a year. Half of those chickens are male and are deemed useless for food because they can not grow nearly as large or as quickly as their female counterparts. Because of this, male chicks are discarded either by gassing, crushing, suffocating or literally grinding these baby chicks alive shortly after birth.
The remainder of the female chickens endure a hard life in a battery cage, forced to produce more eggs than naturally meant to, and then once they are unable to produce enough eggs, are still sent to slaughter houses anyway.
Because it is seen as an inefficient waste of energy/money to raise chickens cage-free, farmers more readily choose battery caged hen houses. 95% of chickens live in battery cages. This type of farming is less ethical and causes more problems for the hens.
Battery cages are small wire or plastic cages, usually stacked on top of each other to ensure efficient use of space. The farm houses are often windowless and have very poor ventilation. This causes unsafe air for both chickens and farm workers. This air pollution can lead to sickness and often death.
Imagine a battery cage as being locked in a bathtub with 4 other people. They can not move so their bones and muscles deteriorate, their feet are constantly hitting wire and become lacerated, and unfortunately their mental health also deteriorates.
These crammed quarters and mental health problems lead chickens to violently peck at one another. In an effort for farmers to combat their pecking, baby chicks’ beaks are cut off with a hot blade without any anesthetic. These beak wounds can cause pain well into their adult lives.
Since chickens are locked close together in small cages, they often lose feathers, and are even forced to molt early so they can produce eggs sooner than their natural cycle.
Besides the negative effects of animal protein, there are other unhealthy elements of egg consumption.
eggs don’t contain any dietary fiber
70% of an egg’s calories are from fats
a large portion of these fats are saturated fats.
While humans produce their own cholesterol and have no need to consume any, eggs have about 213mg of cholesterol.
This also means having 1 egg already exceeds your daily recommended intake of cholesterolwhich is only 200mg.
Besides nutritional dietary hazards, there are many diseases carried on chicken products. Eggshells are porous and as we know from before, the health conditions in farms are not ideal. These porous shells are a perfect host for salmonella (the leading cause of food poisoning in the US). While I’m sure you aren’t purposely eating egg shells, it isn’t very unusual to crack your fingers into an egg and contaminating your white and yolk.
While eggs are probably the hardest animal biproduct to replicate, there are ways to bake and eat a healthy breakfast cruelty-free!
While tofu will never quite have that eggy taste, there are new products on the market attempting to mimic the taste and texture of fried eggs. There is even a product called “the Vegg” that allows you to make a real, fry-able, yolk! (see image below)
Lowering your consumption of eggs helps not only the environment, chickens, and factory workers, but it also helps your own personal health. Please consider cutting or better, eliminating egg consumption.
I see far too many heartbreaking stories regarding human-animal relations, so it’s quite a breath of fresh air to hear today’s news!
More than 1100 former egg-laying hens, who were set to be slaughtered because they were “spent” (no longer producing a satisfactory/profitable quantity of eggs), were rescued and flown across the country to Farm Sanctuary where they will run free and receive veterinary care before traveling on to the many sanctuary and rescue partners that have stepped up to provide forever homes to these sweet ladies.
Yo! It’s awesome that Farm Sanctuary is taking 700 hens but we need to give credit where it is due because too often smaller organizations are overlooked. Animal Place (http://animalplace.org/), a sanctuary in CA, rescued the 3,000 hens and coordinated the flight and everything and has another 2,000 girls still in CA who they will be adopting out.
Have you seen our video of rescued hens touching the ground for the first time? Check it out!
These hens were rescued from an egg farm where they lived in cages so small they could not spread their wings. They have wanted to engage in normal chicken behavior for 2 years but have been denied. Here you’ll see them fly, stretch their wings, and even scratch in the straw.
If you want to see what it looks like for people to “love” nonhumans when they only mean “some nonhumans”, check this out.
So, we rescued 3,000 hens last month. Why 3,000? Originally we agreed to 2,000 because that is what we felt we could handle for adoptions in California, Oregon, and Washington. A private donor called and asked if we could save more. We mentioned that we could if there was a way to get hens to the east coast. It is harder for east coast sanctuaries to rescue “spent laying” hens and we knew they would love to participate in this rescue. So we reached out to the sanctuaries and came up with 1,000 additional hens we could rescue.
1,000 lives were liberated from cages. They were not gassed. If they survived gassing, their necks were not wrung by workers. Their bodies were not dumped in their feces, then in a landfill*. They will live. That is meaningful - to the hens, to us.
Here’s the disconnect. When our story was published to MSN.com, reading the comments would lead you to believe we were committing a grievous crime against humanity by saving these hens.
Probably some of the same commenters who made positive remarks about saving Pit Bulls from dog fighting left negative remarks about saving White Leghorn hens from slaughter.
And if we called them out on it, they would argue vehemently, perhaps violently, about how saving chickens from torture is bad but saving dogs from torture is good. That’s probably because most people eat eggs and eat chickens and it’s pretty hard to celebrate saving chickens from slaughter if you still enjoy eating slaughtered chickens.
Cognitive dissonance is powerful. It’s pretty ugly to witness too. I saw those hens being gassed and a worker about to break a hen’s neck. I watched as their bodies were callously and casually flung to the ground. I witnessed them live in cages so freaking small, their battered wings barely had feathers left. Decomposed hens were being stepped on by the living. I glimpsed bloodied and shit-covered eggs rolling down conveyor belts. I touched mangled beaks and broken bodies.
Dog fighting is ugly. I love the 15-yr-old Pit Bull who I share my home with and cannot fathom harming her the way dog fighters hurt Pit Bulls. It is no more ugly than egg farming. It isn’t. A dog’s ability to feel pain and fear is no different than a bird’s. A dog’s ability to learn new behaviors, a new way of living, is no different than a chicken’s. The act of fighting a dog is illegal while the act of cutting off a hen’s beak is not. Both want to live. Both want to be free of pain and suffering. To oppose that for one group of nonhumans because you don’t like them or you benefit from their slaughter makes zero sense. Zero.
-Marji Beach, Education Director
(This Pit Bull would like you to stop fighting her kind and stop eating her friends on the bales of straw)
*It was a miscommunication that lead to the erroneous claim that these hens would have been sold for human or nonhuman consumption. Egg farmers in California have to pay people to kill their unwanted hens. It is cheaper to gas hens than to pay people to transport them to slaughterhouses, then pay the slaughterhouse to kill them. So virtually all “spent laying” hens (white leghorns) are gassed and dumped.
This is the story of my friend Poppy. The end of her story is hopeful, but the journey there was a bumpy one. Despite this, it is important you read her story and understand what she has gone through because so many people would rather my friend’s voice never be heard.
Amidst the long lines of tiny wire cages, Poppy stood alone. Her body was angled back, her face grave, a large red and black lump extending between her thin legs. As is the case with countless other hens bred to lay an unnatural number of eggs, Poppy’s frail body had passed too many eggs and now her uterus was slowly slipping out of her.
Human women, after giving birth to many babies, may experience this same condition. Most of these women are given immediate medical attention. No one was going to give Poppy medical care; she was going to be left to die alone in a small cage, suspended above years’ worth of poop and grime, never knowing happiness or freedom.
We took Poppy and wrapped her in a towel. She sat in my lap for nearly nine hours as we drove away from her prison and to her new sanctuary home. No one knew if she would survive the trip and—if she did—many were convinced her prolapse was so progressed she would need to be euthanized.
At first, Poppy stayed wrapped in the towel, but slowly she began to emerge. She perched on the top of a backpack, moving into the triangle of light that came through the window; it was her first time feeling the sun. Poppy looked out the window. She had never seen the outside before. She watched the trees and the cars and the gas stations go by. We turned on the car radio and she listened to music for the first time. She felt a loving human hand touch her for the first time. (The last time a human touched Poppy, they were cutting off her beak and shoving her into the cage.) For the first time, Poppy fell asleep to the touch of a gentle finger stroking her head.
When I fell asleep, exhausted from two longs mornings of rescuing 3,000 hens, Poppy felt secure in my lap and let me snuggle with her. She was in deep pain. She had known nothing but deprivation and cruelty until that day. But she trusted me to hold her.
That night, I relinquished her to the compassionate hands of the animal care staff. My heart leaped when they told me they would give her a chance, no euthanasia that night.
The next morning, I entered the special stall that housed Poppy and four other tiny prolapsed girls. As I sat down a few yards away from her, I softly called out the name she had been given just the day before, “Poppy. Poppppy.” Poppy—the young hen who had never know freedom or kindness, the young hen who had endured years of pain—remembered and greeted her liberator.
Don’t give your money to the industry that treats hens like Poppy so cruelly in the name of profit. Don’t buy eggs. Go vegan today.
I’ve been spending every day since the rescue working with these hens and seeing them realize one by one that they are now free and that they can do the things that chickens do. It is so heartwarming. They jumped for joy (literally) as we opened the crates to free them into their new homes. I’ve watched them stretch their wings and walk for the first time, unsure at first but gaining the confidence to keep moving.
Everyday they make progress, they get stronger and they become more instinctual and curious. These girls love to sunbathe; sometimes you’ll walk up to the barn and see 10 of them fast asleep in the sun. I was afraid at first that they were dead, but then realized that they’re only enjoying the warmth of the sun they’ve always longed for. Watching them dust bathe is one of my favorites and they’ve already started digging holes in the dirt in the barns. They’ll squeeze together and dust bathe for 30 minutes sometimes, just so ecstatic that they can finally do it!
One of the best parts, though, is seeing them nesting. They can finally answer their maternal instincts and nest over their eggs and incubate them (although they aren’t fertilized.) Some of the hens have found great nesting spots too, behind and in between bales of straw, and in corners where we’ve piled straw up to keep them from getting stuck. They seem so excited that they can do this; I swear there are grins on their little faces.
When we let them outside for the first time, they didn’t know what to do (and still don’t.)A few walked outside after a few minutes, but immediately rushed back into their stall.One girl was brave enough to sunbathe for a few minutes but she didn’t stay out there for long.It’s so sad to see these hens that have never felt what it’s like to be outdoors be so afraid of it. This is what the egg industry does to them, it brainwashes these poor innocent beings and makes them so afraid of what life really is. These hens finally have the freedom that they deserve and I couldn’t be more grateful to be a part of it.
Last week, Animal Place rescued 3,000 hens from an egg-laying farm in California. Another victory for this amazing organization! Remember the massive rescue of the Turlock hens? Animal Place does really wonderful work.
The farm, which will remain confidential, reached out to us after receiving a packet of information on our Rescue Ranch program…which asks egg farmers to relinquish custody of hens instead of sending them to slaughter. To date, this is the largest farm that has agreed to release birds to our sanctuary.
If you want to help Animal Place out, they could certainly use it. Donate here!
Okay Tumblr friends! I finally get to tell you what has been the big excitement in my life this summer! I hope you all will take a moment to read about it!
I am fortunate enough to be participating in the rescuing of 3,000 hens from a California caged “egg-laying” hen farm with Animal Place, a sanctuary for farmed animals in NorCal.
I write this with severely bruised arms and exhausted limbs. I spent four hours this morning opening up tiny wire cages that have never before been opened in the two years these girls have lived there. One by one, I helped pull hundreds out to send them to their new sanctuary home. Tomorrow I will do this again.
These girls have only ever known extremely cramped cages, chicken lice, and wire floors. They have never taken a sun or dirt bath (both chicken favorites), WALKED, or stretched their wings. It amazes me to think that in the two years I’ve been in college, these girls were in these cages 24/7. I should also mention that there is two years’ worth of poop and feathers reeking below their cages, complete with the occasional dead body.
And they, like almost every single hen used for eggs in the U.S., were going to be killed and thrown in the garbage at a fraction of their natural lifespan (10-12 yrs.). Why? Not for “food” but because their bodies aren’t producing eggs at the same frenetic pace and it’s cheaper to replace them with younger girls from hatcheries. 95% of eggs in the U.S. come from girls in these cages. And the other 5% come from girls still killed and replaced at two years of age.
Please, support this rescue effort. Donate to Animal Place. Watch the documentary of Animal Place’s last big hen rescue free online at http://vimeo.com/60114526. Feel free to ask me if you have any questions.
But beyond that, STOP supporting this industry. Eggs are not necessary for human health and they can actually be extremely bad for you. Don’t use your money to pay for this unnecessary cruelty. Empty the cages. Be vegan!
9,000 laying hens needing a home or they go to the slaughterhouse. They are based at a farm in Ditchling near Brighton. Please contact Ms. Baumgardt on 01273 885750 or mobile 07974 201999 or email firstname.lastname@example.org ASAP. Please pass on the word
Every tour, we invite visitors to bring food for some of the animals. Grapes are a favorite for the chickens and turkeys. I’m always impressed that people take the time to cut up an entire bag of grapes just so the chickens and turkeys won’t worry about choking (well, they don’t worry, but we do).
Margaret was one of the few birds anyone could hand-feed. In fact, she HAD to be hand-fed. Her beak was mangled beyond recognition, almost the entire top portion missing from her perfect face. The mutilation occurred when Margaret was only a day old.
People would be tentative at first, concerned Margaret might harm them with what remained of her beak. After an initial grab, they would quickly learn Margaret couldn’t harm them and soon, everyone would want to hand-feed her a slice of grape. She loved those moments.
Margaret died this past week. She lived nine glorious years at Animal Place, and she reveled in every moment.
Margaret was the first turkey poult (baby) I met when I started volunteering here nine years ago. I watched her grow, along with eleven turkey hens rescued from a breeding facility. She would be the only one to make it nine whole years.
Margaret was a mother. When we took in 140 hens, roosters, and chicks from a hoarder in 2010, there were dozens of chicks in need of mamas. One was Aurora, a small puff-headed dynamo with big personality crammed in a tiny form. Aurora initially found it hard to integrate completely into the flock. Sometimes chickens can be jerks. No one would let Aurora up on the perch at night, so she would be left alone on the ground. This did not last long, because Aurora met Margaret. Aurora found a safe, warm place to sleep at night beneath Margaret’s bold, white wings. Margaret would provide haven to any chicken needing it.
Margaret was a friend. Last year, we spear-headed the rescue of 4,460 hens from a battery cage egg farm where 50,000 hens had been left to starve. We took in 4,100 and found homes for most. Around 100 became permanent residents at the sanctuary. If a hen needed someone to keep her warm and calm, Margaret was the go-to turkey. She could be best friends with anyone in need, providing safety and protection.
Photo by Andrea White
Margaret was bold. Margaret did not let other chickens and turkeys push her around. Despite being smaller and less stable (her toes had been cut off at the farm, leaving her unbalanced), Margaret made sure to lie in the middle of the open stall door so that birds had to go around her to get inside. She wouldn’t move for anyone if she didn’t have to!
Margaret was fond of simple pleasures. Margaret had days when she would preen alongside her human friends, seeking their presence and physical comfort. She would sometimes lift herself up and plop herself down with a sigh in the lap of a beloved caregiver. Other days, she would encourage caregivers to give her extra food or an extra grape, because those were special treats to her.
Margaret lived a long life for a turkey bred to be slaughtered at 16-weeks-old. She lived 104 months longer than the 277 million turkeys killed each year in the United States alone. And she lived a great life, surrounded by people who adored her and supported by a diverse, beautiful flock of chickens and turkeys.
But damn if it doesn’t hurt that she isn’t here anymore. That her snow-white form won’t be seen sunbathing from the safety of the barn. That people won’t get to feed her grape, slice by slice. Go vegan.
♥ Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials;
♥ Margaret Atwood (especially the Mad Adam series & The Handmaid's Tale);
♥ The Hunger Games;
♥ The X-Files;
♥ (Mostly) everything Joss Whedon; and
♥ Unicorns, narwhals, time travel & zombies (not necessarily in that order).
Also, I'd rather pretend that season 6 of Lost never happened, and that Alias ended with the 2003 Superbowl episode.