Marji Beach, Education Director
This year, Animal Place saved 3,800 chickens from being gassed and dumped in landfills. While we liberate the hens, it is our adopters who make large scale rescues possible.
“I taught Marjo this trick using clicker training.The idea is to mark the wanted behavior and reward it,” says Isabelle.
Using a hand-held clicker to mark “wanted” behavior, Isabelle taught Marjo to peck the Queen of Hearts, which she learned after five tries. Then she introduced her to numbered and face cards. It took ten sessions of eight minutes for Marjo to correctly identify the Queen of Hearts in a deck of cards. It is unclear who started the rumor that chickens are stupid, but Marjo is out to prove them wrong!
Adopters find out that chickens are smart, but they learn something else too. Says Isabelle, “I was surprised to see how social they were. I got to know them individually. They quickly became companions, not egg layers.”
For Isabelle, adopting chickens inspired putting her compassion into action. She started volunteering with Animal Place. When she met Charlie, a young hen from a community garden, Isabelle took her activism one step further.
“Charlie was wounded, but nobody noticed for several months! The wound was terrible. I took Charlie to the veterinarian but unfortunately she had to be euthanized. This was upsetting. Someone had to teach people how to take care of their chickens,” Isabelle says.
She trained with resident chicken expert Jan Galeazzi, who manages Animal Place’s rescue and adoption center. Under Jan’s tutelage, Isabelle learned to identify ill chickens and provide basic first aid. Now Isabelle teaches chicken care classes locally. For more complex issues, Isabelle recommends bringing chickens to a qualified avian veterinarian.
When Isabelle initially adopted chickens from Animal Place, she was vegetarian. We invited her on a rescue of hens from a battery cage farm, where hens live in cages so small they cannot spread their wings. After witnessing their horrific treatment, Isabelle became vegan! She now feeds the eggs her adopted hens produce back to her chickens to help them reclaim calcium and protein lost from laying five times more eggs than normal.
Isabelle is not the only one changed by our adoption program. A recent survey of our adopters shows 95% reduced consumption or purchase of eggs from grocery stores, 55% of adopters feed eggs back to birds, and 96% of adopters would adopt from Animal Place again.
Chickens are smart, quirky, fun birds who are great companion animals. If you live in California, check out our adoption program – if you can have hens or roosters in your area, adopt!