|December 8, 2002 Victoria, Australia
Animal Liberation Victoria (ALV) rescued 33 battery hens from PACE Farm Eggs in South Morang (north of Melbourne Australia) on Sunday December 8. The eight member team brought bouquets of silverbeet and bags of lettuce and grapes as a token Christmas gesture to the thousands of caged hens (see photos below).
The team accessed the manure pit of one of the PACE Farm sheds late on Sunday night and immediately found two very emaciated and dehydrated hens cowering in the corner, they were caked in excrement. Two feed hoppers that had obviously been placed in the noxious smelly pit by PACE Farm (Australia's largest producer of battery eggs) after previous adverse publicity following an ALV rescue, were found to be filled with dust and draped in cobwebs. There was no food or water in the pit which was filled with low rows of excrement (almost two metres high) falling from the rows of battery caged hens above.
PACE Farms in South Morang produces battery, barn and free-range eggs in numerous sheds on the property, with the majority being battery hens. PACE Farms is a business partner with the RSPCA who have failed to properly investigate and prosecute this company for cruelty to animals. The RSPCA endorse Pace Farms barn-laid eggs and make royalties from all sold (see the Massive PACE Farm Investigation report for more information). The two massive battery sheds next to the one ALV investigated had recently been depopulated (hens taken to the slaughterhouse) and it is our belief that the shed we were in was also soon to be cleared.
Laying hens are prematurely slaughtered at 18-24 months of age when their 'economic productivity declines'. The hens we rescued were 'end of lay' meaning they were approximately 18 months old. They were debilitated, exhausted, frail and broken down. They more resembled 8-10 year old hens near the end of their lives. In human terms it would be similiar to finding a shed of confined young teenagers (aged 13-14 years old) who were forced to work non-stop, being physically like people 90 years old. Such is the collateral damage of constant caging in cramped unbearable conditions and being forced to pump out countless eggs.
The rescue team well understood the real meaning of Christmas giving this night. Though a token gesture, the team came armed with bouquets of silverbeet and bags of lettuce and grapes (foods that hens normally love to eat). The lights were out in the shed as we placed the vibrant green leaves in their food trays. When our video lights woke some of the hens and they saw this favored food that they had NEVER set eyes on before, their eyes popped out of their heads! (see photo below) Contrast this with our abundance of presents under the Christmas tree and festive tables weighted down with so much food that we make ourselves sick. Yet the humble hen miserably toils away while tightly and permanently caged in a dismal, dim, stinking shed with nothing!
Sadly one of the hens we rescued was found near death on the floor of her cage (see photo). We named this hen Lizzie and she was later euthanised by a vet as her condition was so poor. Lizzie weighed only one kilogram, less than half normal body weight. At any time there would be thousands of 'Lizzies" lying prone on a battery cage floor somewhere in the world, sick and too weak to reach food and water, slowly dying while being trampled by other hens in the cage who have no where else to go.
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the rescue team prepares to hand out silverbeet
hens enjoying their christmas treat
silvia cradles lizzie hen who was found near death, numerous hens were found dead and rotting in their crowded cages
battery hens live in hell
this recently dead hen was found being trampled in her cage
lizzie was so weak she had no muscles to even lift her head and had to be euthanased
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one of the 32 surviving hens being cared for prior to being released into a large green sanctuary