VACAVILLE (CBS13) – It’s being called the largest farm animal rescue in the state of California and second largest in the U.S. Thousands of malnourished hens were rescued from a Turlock shed late last month.

But now the non-profit caring for the birds needs the public’s help in their recovery.

hens Rescued Hens Recovering At Vacaville Sanctuary

Thousands of hens left to starve in Turlock are now recovering in Vacaville. (credit: CBS13)

The recovery process has been intense. “Animals that lived in battery cages for a little over a year,” said David Phinney, animal care coordinator for Animal Place.

Phinney says the birds lived seven to a cage, starved for weeks and were unable to move. Those were the conditions the 50,000 hens endured.

“It’s really, really sad,” he said. “It’s a terrible situation.

Some 40,000 hens did not survive. The majority that did are now being cared for at the Animal Place Rescue Ranch in Vacaville.

“They are a thousand percent healthier than they were when they first arrived,” Phinney said.

Since arriving, the hens have received medical attention and a diet of high-protein, high-calcium feed.

“They lost more than 50 percent of their body weight and they are rapidly putting that back on,” he said. “They’re happy now. You can hear them back there cooing, walking around, scratching, dusting, sunbathing.”

But getting the hens back to good health hasn’t been easy.

“This has been absolutely overwhelming,” Phinney said. “this has been sun up, sun down, an army of staff and volunteers.”

It’s taken a toll financially as well. The sanctuary goes through 2,000 pounds or $400 worth of feed per day. The group is looking for any help from the public, either through financial donations or adoptions.

“You would want to have a backyard, need to have a coup to protect then from predators and access to the yard,” Phinney said.

The hens are $10 each to adopt and will be ready next week.

Comments (5)
  1. vi concannon says:

    Why charge an adoption fee! Either no fee or $3.00 ea. Thats why so many of these poor animals are put to death every day! I know on the cats & dogs they have to do that for the protection of the animal but their fees are way too high!

  2. ttruth says:

    They’re chickens ok, just fatten them up and slaughter them.

  3. Marji says:

    Vi, none of these chickens will be put to death. The $10 adoption fee covers a tiny percentage of the cost of the rescue. People who have adopted from us often donate more, because they recognize that as a non-profit, we rely on the generosity of the public. We rarely receive complaints about something so nominal as a $10 adoption fee.

    Also, a shout-out to Harvest Home Animal Sanctuary – they helped coordinate the rescue as well as took in 15 special needs hens who were saved from the manure pit. Farm Sanctuary took in 360 hens on the second day of the rescue and the Marin Humane Society took in 400 as well. We could not have done any of this without the cooperation of many organizations (Sacramento SPCA, HSUS, El Dorado County Animal Services helped transport during the rescue too).

    And, of course, the public. They have been and continue to be so generous in showing compassion to these wonderful hens. From monetary donations to volunteering their time to offering to adopt, the outpouring of support has been incredible. It is great seeing people expand their circle of compassion to include chickens!

    -Marji Beach, Education Manager, Animal Place

  4. Jenn says:

    BIG KUDOS TO YOU RESCUERS!! Have done a lot of rescue work in my70 yrs. Wish i could go see & photograph some of them. I absolutely love CHICKENS!! If i could see them i could paint them-as in “portraits”! The portraits could be donated for auctioning to help raise funds. I painted the original wall mural at the first Happy Tails Adoption Center in Sacramento CA. Ask Melinie if you want proof.

    If there is some way we could work this out, i’d love to do it; for them & for you!

  5. Cmornos says:

    I think that the ten dollar adoption fee is fair. It is going to help pay for the care of needy animals such as these poor chickens. If I could have chickens, I would adopt in a heartbeat. Live in Sacramento County, but live in area where chickens are not allowed. Glad to see there are caring people out there who will give them good homes. They make great pets.

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