At first glance the chickens at the Orland Farm Sanctuary seem healthy, even happy. But if you had seen them less than two weeks ago you would think otherwise. " It was horrific, the first thing that I noticed approaching the facility was the smell, it was just a terrible smell that burned your nose," said Tara Oresick, Director of the Orland Farm Sanctuary.
The hens were rescued along with nearly 5,000 others. They're all that survived out of the some 50,000 birds that were left trapped in small cages to starve and die, on an egg farm near Turlock which was rented by A&L Poultry. The birds went without food or water for more than two weeks before being discovered. " I'll never forget it," said Oresick.
The Orland Farm Sanctuary took roughly 400 of the hens left alive. The others went to both Animal Place and Harvest Home for rehabilitation. Authorities say roughly one-third of the 50,000 birds starved to death, while thousands more had to be euthanized due to their poor condition. " When we brought the 400 or so chickens to our Orland shelter, some were so weak they couldn't eat or drink," explained Oresick.
Some of the birds are still being tube fed and the group is also being treated for poultry mites. With nearly 400 birds to care for, the sanctuary's biggest goal now is getting these hens healthy enough to find them homes.
For most of these chickens, this is the first time they've been able to stand up straight, walk, or even flap their wings, after spending their entire lives in cages not much bigger than they are. " When you view these animals as commodities, as production units, you lose sight of the needs of that individual animal," said Oresick.