Sunday 8 July 2012

A sad farewell

 So yesterday after two weeks of worry we had to take our beautiful ex-battery hen Trelawney to the vet for the very last time. A couple of weeks ago she started being very wobbly on her feet & seemed to be loosing her balance quite a bit. I had a look through my chicken books (and sought the knowledge of the fantastic ladies on the Omlet forum) and it looked like all the symptoms pointed towards Merrick's disease (something that battery hens are supposed to be inoculated against). We took her to the vets and he confirmed the diagnosis (although the only way of being completely certain is by post mortem). Very much hoping it wasn't he sent her home to be kept in isolation with some baydrill to see if things improved.
She has been living in our back room for two weeks, having her food garnished with mealworms & generally being spoilt rotten. Every evening I'd pick her up and go and sit outside, her sisters free-ranging around her. Trelawney was the vanilla of the chicken world, never threw a peck in anger and happy to let her sisters scoff her share of the treats as long as she had their company. When she first got ill I went to check on her in the coop only to find her best friend Aurora keeping her warm. When she was in the back room they would still call to her through the open window, checking she was okay. After two weeks she was no better & so I forced myself to phone the vet. Through many tears we got an appointment for yesterday morning. Just before we went I took her out into the back garden to say goodbye. She snuggled up in my arms and closed her eyes and I knew she was ready to go and so we made the final journey with her. I know now that even though we will miss her she is out of pain & I hope she will free range in freedom fields forever.
 I am determined however that her life will not be in vain. Birds like Trelawney are a waste product of intensive farming. They are kept in cramped cages all their lives never experiencing fresh air, rain or sunshine. Our girls have come on leaps and bounds since they were rescued at Christmas, regrowing their feathers and developing their own special personalities but there is some damage we can never repair & not all birds are guaranteed a rescue or a safe retirement. Figures have just come out that show free range egg sales have dropped & consumers are yet again opting for the cheaper battery alternatives. As human beings we have a duty to put a stop to battery farming for good. I know times are tight at the moment but by buying free range eggs you are supporting those farmers doing the right thing and sending a very clear message to those battery farmers, we will not tolerate this barbaric practice. The fantastic BHWT  have launched an initiative called free range Friday to raise awareness about free range eggs with all funds going towards future battery rescues more info can be found here     

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