Climb Aboard Our Spent-Hen Rescue This Friday!

Former residents Sally Jane Kerschen-Sheppard and Matt Smith clean up one of the Rapunzels after our first rescue in 2012.
A year after their rescue, the Rapunzels in 2013 still laid on average one egg a day apiece. And check out those colors!
This Friday, do double diligence by pledging to produce your own healthy, local eggs right in your back yard—while also rescuing a hen who has had it with being a factory girl. We're embarking on a rescue mission tomorrow to save some white leghorn chickens who've been cooped up their whole lives without so much as the simple pleasure of walking around outside. Our "knight in shining armor" move comes just in time, as all these girls are fated to have a meeting with a processing plant June 1.

All that is about to change.

With your help, we are going to bring a flock of birds to Better Farm for some TLC and organic rehab. After that, your sponsorships—and adoptions—will ensure these girls enjoy their retirements in clean, cozy, spacious conditions.

A spent hen is a bird who is a little more than a year old and whose egg production has dropped by industry standards. By normal standards, however, these birds are mighty egg layers—in fact, two years after adopting our spent hens, they still (at almost 4 years old) outproduce any other member of the flock, aging in range from 9 months to 5 years.

Here's how it works.

We go to the egg farm tomorrow and transport a bunch of factory girls destined for dog food to Better Farm. Once here, we will clip their toenails, wash their skin, introduce them to water bowls and food dishes, and admire them as they walk for the first time outside. Here's a video clip of what that process is like:

It takes about two weeks to get all the gunk out of their bodies, and all the good stuff (worms, bugs, food scraps, and laying mash) in. After a couple of weeks, they will be ready for adoption. These girls will make the perfect addition to your existing flock (if ours are any indication, your adopted leghorn will outlay any existing bird you've got), or you can adopt them and start a new flock where there wasn't one.

These hens are unbelievably gentle (though quite skittish, understandably), quiet, and make loving, hard-working birds you will never regret taking under your wing. If you've been toying with the idea of having backyard birds (or indoor—a chicken doesn't need sleeping space any bigger than a parrot cage), why not rescue a hen who's worked for the last year in an egg factory and who deserves a beautiful retirement? Email us at or call (315) 482-2536 to reserve your bird—each adopted bird means another bird we pick up tomorrow!

Don't feel like taking on the responsibility of owning your own hen? Then how about rescuing one anyway and sponsoring her at Better Farm? The Redwood Tavern has already taken the lead on this initiative, sponsoring one of the birds we pick up tomorrow. That allows us to keep one more hen from her fated "processing" June 1. Sponsorship is $5/month, or $60 for the year. You can sponsor a hen online by clicking here.

As for the eggs...

Let's face it: Store-bought eggs just ain't what they're cracked up to be. Hens kept in tight, cramped conditions fed only cheap grain or pellets and never given the chance to run around outside are simply not happy birds. And unhappy birds without a varied diet and exposure to fresh air are not going to produce the best eggs.

In fact, even store-bought eggs from so-called "cage free" hens don't come close to comparing with backyard eggs. Check out the evidence:
Backyard Better Farm egg, left, organic "cage free" hen egg from store, right.
Here are the numbers:
Backyard eggs have approximately 25 percent more vitamin E, 75 percent more beta carotene, and as much as 20 times the amount of Omega-3 fatty acids as do factory farmed eggs. Perhaps best of all for those who avoid eating eggs due to worries about cholesterol, backyard eggs contain only about half as much cholesterol as factory-farmed eggs.

Please be part of the solution! And stay tuned for video footage of tomorrow's rescue!
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Nicole Caldwell

Nicole Caldwell is a self-taught environmentalist, green-living savant and sustainability educator with more than a decade of professional writing experience. She is also the co-founder of Better Farm and president of betterArts. Nicole’s work has been featured in Mother Earth News, Reader’s Digest, Time Out New York, and many other publications. Her first book, Better: The Everyday Art of Sustainable Living, is due out this July through New Society Publishers.