Back in September of 2018, Kevin and Cathy were among 128 baby chicks who took a long journey from a parking lot in Philadelphia to a life at SASHA Farm where they would be cared for with the loving kindness which the SASHA Farm Animal Care Team is known for. These particular chicks are a Cornish Cross breed, “broiler chicks”, bred for accelerated growth. They can reach 5 pounds in 5 weeks before slaughter. Chickens bred for meat are forced to grow 65 times faster than their bodies normally would.
A small meat producer in Pennsylvania had purchased two thousand young chicks intending to raise them for meat. With no heat during one bitter cold night, nearly 1,000 of them perished. The farmer chose to end his business endeavor by giving away some of the surviving chicks to friends, while leaving the remaining chicks in a vacant lot, which were advertised for free. The PSPCA (Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) intervened, and worked with their rescue partner Indraloka Animal Sanctuary to bring the remaining chicks to safety by seeking out additional rescues. SASHA Farm heeded the call. Our rescued chicks grew quickly, even with the specially formulated low protein feed that our local feed mill created just for us. Some died from heart failure at just 2 months of life. Their baby hearts simply could not keep up with their adult-sized bodies.
Around the age of 5 months several chicks developed sores on the pads of their feet known as Bumblefoot. Avian specialists at the Bird and Exotic Pet Wellness Center in Toledo gave us specific care instructions and evaluated several of the chicks. They stated, “Being bred for meat is basically a death sentence. It’s almost inevitable that they will suffer from enlarged organs, heart disease and bumblefoot due to their extreme weight.” Regardless, our staff and volunteers spent hours every day treating and bandaging each foot with a specialized pad and providing antibiotics and other medications to help alleviate the pressure from their enlarged bodies.
Now, almost two years later, we continue to provide specialized care to those who are still with us. It is such a joy to hear them as they vocalize their recognition of their human pals, and run to greet us when we approach. Our animal care manager says, “These birds have the most AMAZING loving personalities. The hens are a little bit more reserved, but the roos are just the funniest, friendliest, and snuggliest boys there are. They love their humans. They are very talkative.” Roosters Kevin and Josh each have their own little flock of hens to care for, with Cathy being part of Kevin’s flock. Both boys are so good to their hens.
So, today we celebrate Kevin and Cathy, as well as Helena, Gina, Josh, and Henry, just to name a few among those who are still with us, joyfully greeting us and following us around every day, happy to be loved and safe at SASHA farm.
We are grateful for the opportunity to provide a safe and loving environment to all the chicks who came to SASHA, even though we could not prevent or cure all that afflicted them. Each one was an individual who repaid our love a thousand times over just by being who they were. Those who remain live each day in honor of the ones who have passed.
* Thank you to Shara Jones, Animal Care Manager for much of the current information. See website blog “All for Love” to read the whole story: https://www.sashafarm.org/2019/04/07/all-for-love/