Adopt a rescued egg-laying hen
July 15, 2010|By Peter Fimrite, Chronicle Staff Writer
A flock of 80 rescued hens with an uncanny ability to lay large numbers of eggs has arrived at the Marin Humane Society and they are awaiting loving - or at least adaptable - homes.
The flightless birds were put up for adoption at the humane society at 171 Bel Marin Keys in Novato Wednesday after two weeks of emergency care at Animal Place, a farm animal sanctuary near Vacaville.
Carrie Harrington, the spokeswoman for the Marin Humane Society, said anyone with enough yard space who lives in a properly zoned region will be permitted to adopt the birds at a cost of $5 per hen, as long as the new pet owners are planning to put only the eggs and not the chickens down their gullets.
"There were originally 200 injured birds. We've got 80," Harrington said. "We've agreed to take more if our adoptions go well."
The squawking brood apparently fell victim to an ambitious, if intellectually challenged, egg farm manager who put leg bands on the hens when they were young without taking into account the probability that the birds would grow. The bands became embedded in the chicken's legs, in some cases all the way to the bone, necessitating an intervention, Harrington said.
The birds, which are all about 1 1/2 years old, were bred to produce 250 eggs a year per hen. Most egg farmers slaughter the poor peckers after two years because their egg production drops. The rescued chickens should live six or seven years and, although less productive than in their younger days, will still squeeze out enough eggs for the average household to fry, Harrington said.
"The taste difference between freshly laid eggs and store-bought eggs is noticeable, and it's also a money saver," Harrington said. "A lot of people, after trying fresh eggs, can't go back to the store-bought kind."
The chicken, or Gallus gallus domesticus, is the most common domestic animal in the world. The humane society made room for them by shipping out several resident roosters.
"We don't want to make more chickens," Harrington said.
She said the gawky birds still have a little swelling in their legs, but are otherwise healthy and are happily poking and lurching about, evidently eager for human companionship.
"Chickens make good pets. These girls like sitting in laps," Harrington said. "It's not like having a dog or a cat, but they can be good companions. We've even had a chicken be a therapy pet at the humane society."
To adopt a hen
What: 80 egg-laying hens are available for adoption
When: From 10 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday and from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Wednesday
Where: Marin Humane Society, 171 Bel Marin Keys, Novato
How much: $5 each
For more information: Call (415) 506-6225