Hens get second chance at Milpitas adoption event

Local animal groups teamed up this month to give young hens from a "battery" egg farm a second chance.

A group of cackling, pecking rescue hens have gotten new caretakers and the prospect of a happier life at an adoption event organized by Animal Place, a farm animal rescue and advocacy group. Those adopting the 186 birds filled a room at the Milpitas Humane Society — the event’s host — on Jan. 17.

Chickens may live over 10 years. But most birds here were only about a year old when they were slated to die because their egg production decreased, said Jacinda Virgin, adoption coordinator for Animal Place. The organization picked up the hens from a so-called commercial ‘battery’ farm — nicknamed that because of the rows of identical, tiny wire cages stacked up like the cells in a battery, holding three or more chickens. Before their rescue, the animals had never stepped on firm ground, tasted a worm or enjoyed enough space to run.

“They have to get socialized. They were in cages their whole lives,” said Virgin, who hopes more people consider chickens as fun companion animals and not just egg-laying machines. “It’s great seeing them walk to the sun for the first time and step in dirt, because they really love that.”

Animal Place is holding additional chicken adoptions on Jan. 23 and 24 in Grass Valley, Calif., and on Jan. 31 at the Milpitas Humane Society. Prospective adopters must apply before the event. The cost of adopting is $10 each for one to four chickens, and $7 each for five to 10 chickens. For more information, visit Animal Place’s website or contact the organization at 530-477-1757.

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