Got a yard? Let’s start a Chicken Sanctuary!

Via Waylon Lewis
on Jan 4, 2013
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This is why I don’t eat eggs at restaurants. {Don’t worry, Happy Ending}

And this is why I now want to start a chicken sanctuary!

I adopt factory farm hens whenever I can. I made an album showing the last batch of adoptions before and after they were rehabilitated.”

7 Photos. (

“These are Rhode Island Red hens that spent the first 18 months of their lives in an egg-production factory farm. After 18 months the ladies are considered to be “spent” and are sent to slaughter unless they’re able to find a home like this which are unfortunately few and far between.”

Via Reddit:

“I adopt them with the help of a local farm sanctuary (These guys: – give them all the money!). They run adoption drives every year and I bring home as many as I can. This year they had rhode island reds (brown hens who make the brown eggs). Last year it was leghorns (white hens, white eggs).

I do not eat the eggs but I do collect them. I let the hens eat a lot of them as well. The eggs I collect are given to anyone who requests them and they leave donations for food sometimes. They live out their lives here as pets and make excellent friends! Anyways, vegans who have reasonable space, consider adopting pet hens! They are friendly, loveable, will take care of a lot of your food waste, and even their poop is useful! Whenever a farm “cleans” out the barns, that means nearly 30,000 hens are being sent to slaughter at 18 months old – still babies imo! I can only rescue about 20 at a time and wish I could do more. Hopefully someone else out there will see this and also will be able to offer an alternative to ladies in this situation.

As for roosters, there are always tons on local classifieds facing death if they cannot find a “free to good home” situation. Not to mention the male baby chicks in the factory farm situations – heart breaking. I recommend rooster friends for your ladies too. The factory farm ladies don’t tend to be too broody so you don’t have to worry about getting overwhelmed.”

How long do they live post-adoption?

It varies of course. I just lost a hen the day before yesterday that came from a factory farm. I had her for seven/eight years which means she was about 8-10 years old. She still laid eggs for many years after I brought her home.

Of the 20 that I brought home in the last batch, I’ve had one pass away on me. Some might bring illness with them and they just might not be able to make the transition.

On average for factory farm hens, you should at least get 3-4 years out of them. They can live well over a decade.


Advice re rehabilitating?

I think just talking to other farmers who went through rehabilitating them might be best. I’m not sure of any books since I’ve pretty much grown up with chickens as pets. But I’ll describe what we did..

First thing was to not let them out of their house for at least 24 hours so they know to define that as their home base. Some people neglect this step and the chickens might wander off.

For the first two months or so we did not let them out of the chicken run. They only had access to their house and the fenced in space which is quite large so no worries there. This was just to get them used to the whole thing and to make sure they understood the whole part about going into the house at night time so predators don’t get at them. Once we were absolutely sure they understood that then we let them have free roam of the property. This also sort of forces them to stay within a certain distance of us whenever we go to visit so it gets them used to us.

We have a few hens and our rooster who were raised on the farm and I think having them around to emulate might have helped as well. There are also hens that we’ve rehabilitated over the last few years mixed in. Having a variety of hens at different stages can either be a bonus or a shitty situation since they may decide to pick on the new ones. My hens and my rooster, Eugene, were all awesome though.

I adopted these guys in September so aside from the cut beaks you wouldn’t know they went through what they did now.

Hens would be the best way to start with rescued farm animals since they don’t need as much space as a cow for example! 🙂 An average suburban backyard would work for three hens or so..


About Waylon Lewis

Waylon Lewis, founder of elephant magazine, now & host of Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis, is a 1st generation American Buddhist “Dharma Brat." Voted #1 in U.S. on twitter for #green two years running, Changemaker & Eco Ambassador by Treehugger, Green Hero by Discovery’s Planet Green, Best (!) Shameless Self-Promoter at Westword's Web Awards, Prominent Buddhist by Shambhala Sun, & 100 Most Influential People in Health & Fitness 2011 by "Greatist", Waylon is a mediocre climber, lazy yogi, 365-day bicycle commuter & best friend to Redford (his rescue hound). His aim: to bring the good news re: "the mindful life" beyond the choir & to all those who didn't know they gave a care. | His first book, Things I would like to do with You, is now available.


3 Responses to “Got a yard? Let’s start a Chicken Sanctuary!”

  1. Thank you for posting. I live in a little cabin with a very large front and back yard that has a fenced chicken run already in place (just need the coop). The tenants before me had chickens, and I was thinking of raising some myself in the spring. But I was not aware that you could rescue them. What a wonderful idea! Thanks for sharing.

  2. Happyherbivore says:

    Lovely blog! I'm a vegan and we have three ex-batt rescue hens, Lula, Ferti and Cleo. We did have four, Perdi, but she had internal masses when we homed her and it was about four months before she couldn't cope anymore. She was a lovely girl, the other three never picked on her and she seemed exempt from the pecking order too. She was everbody's friend and she loved the dogs bed!! They are great, so funny, individual. I do so love them. My Son is a vegetarian but he has already decided that if / when the hennettes stop laying he does not want to eat any eggs from elsewhere due to what the hens suffer at the hand of the consumer. Not bad for a 14 year old!

  3. Sweet! There are some organic/free ranger farmers who rescue chickens from factory farms. We raised chickens—they roamed all over the place by day—when I was young and they were somewhat… well, let's just say they weren't the sharpest tools in the shed compared to our ducks (according to my mom). But they're animals and no living creature should be made to suffer. Factory farms suck!