So you want to rescue a chicken... Now what?

So you have found yourself in a predicament. You have had your heart captured by an innocent bird that wants nothing better than to lay her egg,...
By fishnet1971 · Apr 30, 2013 · Updated May 6, 2013 · ·
  1. fishnet1971

    I Have Done Something…..

    I looked at all the caged animals in the barn...the cast-offs of human society.

    I saw in their eyes love and hope, fear and dread, sadness, and betrayal. And I was angry.

    "God," I said, "this is terrible! Why don't you do something?"

    God was silent for a moment, and then He spoke softly, "I have done something," he replied.

    "I created you."
    -- Author Unknown

    "Saving the life of one animal may not change the world, but the world will surely change for that one animal"

    Written by Dee Waters aka Fishnet1971
    So you have found yourself in a predicament. You have had your heart captured by an innocent bird that wants nothing better
    than to lay her egg, cluck happily, run through the meadows chasing grasshoppers, and have good dreams from her roost at
    night. Unfortunately, this young innocent thing has been caged in a small In-hospitable dirty place with no food and water (or very little). She has been pecked beyond recognition by her cage mates and has no ventilation. She is on her last few minutes of life’s clock before the timer goes off and she expires. You know you cannot let her leave this earth on that note, you will not let her suffering and pain go in vain. You can tell there once was a spark in her eyes that was so VERY special and you heart just breaks as a tear runs down your cheeks. For one brief moment you contemplate leaving her there - in that place. Who knows what kind of issues she may have? Maybe she would be better off dying than the pain of what it would take to make her whole again? It sure would be easier for you to leave her than to take her in. Then you turn and scoop her up in your arms and promise to make her world a better place for as long as she lives. Both of you exit that barn for the last time with your heads held high. You and your new rescue chicken- together.

    This is the constant battle that goes on in your mind when you find yourself bringing home a rescued chicken. More than once now I have found myself in this exact scenario and each time I think to myself “HOW do I get myself into these situations?” Well, folks, I am here to tell you – I am put into these situations, not gotten into them. I have had 6 or so rescues now over the last couple of years. I never expected this, never in a million years thought I would be doing this, but the job was given to me and I am SO glad. My coop will always be open to the unfortunate ones.

    So now that you have gotten your new hen out of that unwanted place, and home. What do you do? How do you rehabilitate her? Here are a few things I have learned over the years bringing home rescues, unwanted, or homeless chickens.

    • First and foremost – quiet, calm and simple. I bring my new one inside the moment I get her home. I will check her over from head to toe. Every part of her body is inspected for lice, mites, scars, scrapes, infection, disease, rash, and so on. This is SO important to do - especially if you have your own flock. You do not want to risk spreading anything to them. If there is something that needs immediate attention I do that now. Cuts get cleaned, infections treated, mites treated, and a bath if needed. All this happens inside with a very quiet background and a soothing voice. You would be surprised how well they can read your emotions. They know if you are scared, mad, excited, or happy from the tone of your voice.

    MayMay gets a bath on day 1!

    • If all is well in that area, I will offer supervised food and water immediately . My last rescue had not eaten in so long that when I offered her some crumbles she ate until the sun went down. I bet if I wouldn’t have taken it away from her she would still be eating to this day! Do not let them over do.

    I don't think Hope would have stopped eating had I not removed the bowl from her!

    • If I haven’t already, I will set up a dog crate that I have purchased over the years and line it with soft clean towels, put in a water and food dish and cover it with more towels on 3 of the 4 sides. In she will go to settle down and have some quiet time to adjust. This has all been a total shock to her. I cover the 3 sides to let her have a ‘closed’ in area to feel safe. I will check on her about every hour or so for the first day and speak to her and make her comfortable. Your rescue may be very jumpy and shy- may even peck at you. How would you feel if you were in this scenario? If you were the chicken and had never been given attention and affection? Give her time. Work with her constantly. This is also a good time to add any nutritional supplements that she may need. Get started on the probiotics, vitamins, electrolytes, etc. She may be so grateful to you that she even leaves you an egg!
    • Keep monitoring for any signs of disease, sickness, disabilities and so on. If there are any be prepared to treat them. If you find that she is beyond your help, and you can not go to a vet for care you may have to put the girl down. Sometimes it’s better that than to let them suffer a losing battle. You do not always know the best path to take in these instances, but don’t beat yourself up over your decisions. You do what you think is right. I have struggled with this decision more than once and I never know if what I did was right or not. It has taken me years and years to finally come to grips with it and know that what I did is done, and I did it for the right reasons.


    I kept checking Hope over while she was inside for everything imaginable

    • If all goes well, she is healthy and after a week or so of close monitoring and nursing her I will put her out in a sectioned off part of my coop. She is not able to be with the rest of my flock and is still in a quarantine period, but the others know of her presence.

    Even through everything, they will show you their love. Hope leaves me an egg!

    Hope in her own part of my coop with her cute home made PJ's to keep her warm

    • If all is still going well at that point - she is eating, drinking and he overall health has improved, begin the integration process as you would if she was just a new hen you just purchased.

    Hope getting to know everyone under supervision for the first few days.

    My latest rescue hen ‘Hope’ was without 80% of her feathers the day I brought her home to live with me. I had made her a coat of felt and kept her in an indoor part of my coop with lots of light and ventilation.She was kept separated for 2 months so that the others would not pick at her naked skin causing injury and infection. I have worked with my little Hope for over 9 months now, and she just recently has grown her feathers back and is ‘on her own’ with the rest of my flock (9). I was very fortunate that she did not have any disabilities.

    Hope and I on the way home from the horrible farm she called home.

    Another rescue that I had brought home from the Buffalo SPCA in 2010 had only the lower portion of her beak. I knew that going into it and was prepared to be able to give her the extra help she would need to eat every day.

    My rescue MayMay with a beak disability

    These are the kind of things that you must be aware of before you decide to bring a new rescue home. Realize that you are agreeing to do whatever is necessary to give this bird the best chance to survive until it either expires or comes back to health. There is no bringing it home and putting it in your coop and hoping for the best. You are agreeing to help this little innocent being and will need to put in extra time and lots of extra effort.

    I have found that the best reward from this whole thing is seeing their eyes light up when I walk into the room or open the coop door in the morning. Seeing them run to me when I walk down to the pen with my morning coffee and their daily treats just makes my heart melt every single day. When you sit down and have a rescued hen that is back to 100% jump up onto your lap and purr to you is when you know you have done a good job, when you know you have done what God has meant for you to do.
    Go forth and rescue my friends. It will have good days and bad, sadness and warmth. But they will also be the most rewarding and remembered days of your life.

    Written in memory of: Elly, MayMay, & Gracie and written for: Hope, Maggie & Midge.

    Here are a few shots of my last rescues. Some still with me today, some not.

    Here is MayMay's story:

    MayMay the day I brought her home:

    and 2 years later... RIP my sweety. I miss you!

    Gracie, who was egg bound and I lost 2 days after I got her home.


    Gracie's sisters Maggie and Midge who I went back to get two months later. This is the day I brought them home. They were in pretty good shape.


    And of course, here is the link to 'Hopes Story'. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have enjoyed bringing this little girl back to her self!

    Hope last week. Since I have written this article, Hope has since passed away. RIP my little girl. We had a good 9 month fight.




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Recent User Reviews

  1. Anonymous
    "Thank you"
    5/5, 5 out of 5, reviewed Sep 11, 2018
  2. tjo804
    "God Bless your service!"
    5/5, 5 out of 5, reviewed Jul 23, 2018
    Great inspiring stories.
    I too tend to be found by lost and or struggling new friends and get attached very quickly. It is hard for me to say no if I know/or think I can help.

    Thank you for sharing tears with me ;)

    I Always say Never again! Then I am reminded Never say Never
  3. The Farmers' Daughter
    5/5, 5 out of 5, reviewed Jul 23, 2018
    What a warm and tender story. If only everyone had such a kind and giving heart the world would be a much better place.

    Helping us know exactly what to do when we bring a rescue home is very helpful.

    Links to each girl's story gives more specifics on what one may encounter.

    All that I can say is thank you for all that you do.


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  1. fishnet1971
    its is such a passion of mine.
  2. micstrachan
    I love this article! Thank you for looking after these wonderful feathered friends.
  3. fishnet1971
    They are my world, my love, and my passion. So many others have shown interest in doing exactly what I am and have done I thought it best to share some of my experiences. It is not all roses and sunshine with them. but to me it is the most rewarding thing in this world. In todays society I would rather be left alone with my flock than in a crowd of people or at a mall. :)
  4. Newmotherhen89
    this was such a touching article. thank you so much for sharing your experience and your knowledge. sorry for your losses, what you do, and the effort you put in is inspiring and amazing. <3
  5. Smuch
    Yes, it is a passion. I volunteer at a farm animal rescue sanctuary once a week where I got my truly "rescue" chickens (factory hens who were having their first molt and therefore doomed). I didn't have to worry too much about their condition since the sanctuary had checked them for bugs and disease before putting them out for adoption--they were just undernourished and ready for a home.
    I almost want to stop the notifications when there is an update to this site because it makes me cry every time I come here--but it is so worth it, just like some of my rescue hens who die despite all the care I give them. Thank you for the story at the beginning of the post. It is so true! And it is also true that they give us so much more than anyone who doesn't do this can realize.
  6. Smuch
  7. fishnet1971
    it is a passion....
  8. Sabavana
    Thankyou so much for what you do for these chickens <3
  9. fishnet1971
    Smuch, thank you so much for your kind words. It was a heart written article. I am so glad you are doing the same thing for these girls. thank you!
  10. Smuch
    Chickincredible, you are not too emotional--I too got teary and I don't cry often. (Meds)

    Fishnet1971--thank you for the article and the pictures. I, too, have some rescue chickens and they look like yours did missing some of their feathers. They look pathetic but they don't act pathetic. Mine have a roo protector who has been very gentle with them but they have no fear. Even though it's almost midnight, after reading your article, I wanted to go out and hug my girls. (I refrained because if I turn the light on to check something, they wake up and think they need to start eating.) And thank you for talking about losing them or making the decision to let them go. It is such a hard thing and it helps to know that even though it happens to everyone who keeps chickens, we all hurt when we lose them. The picture of Hope (rest her beautiful soul) on the counter was adorable.
  11. showgirl3
    that made me cry, it was very touching
  12. kglazier
    Our local animal shelter (County dog pound) gets a few chickens every month. The birds are usually adopted the day the ad is posted.
  13. petspoiler
    I've been doing it with dogs for 20 years, and it restored my spirit. Now you're starting to give me ideas. What else will my spirit gain when I give my heart to the most unfortunate of these gentle souls...
  14. Chickincredible
    Maybe I'm just too emotional, but this made me tear up. Thank you for being one of those people who will do the right thing. I'm so sorry to hear about your girls who have passed on but I guess that we have to be grateful for what time you had with them and for the girls who are still with you
  15. Mountain Peeps
  16. fishnet1971
    I started out at the animal protection leagues. they led me to the farm sanctuaries and some APL's rescue farm animals. That is how I found my first ones. My work takes me onto a lot of local farms. smaller farms. That's where i see most of them. The farmers feel quilty when they see my face when I react to them, so most of them offer to let me take them.
  17. emma p
    I love it! Thank you so much!
  18. MichStep
    Good Job Great Post!
  19. AlexisWriter
    Wait--I've never seen a place where a chicken needed rescuing. I'm not being dumb or a smart a**, but I live in the 'burbs, closer to a city. Where do your chickens come from? Hoarders? Are they abandoned?
  20. Nutcase
    I would love to take on some rescue chickens, but I don't know where to start! How do you actually acquire the birds in the first place? What if there are no egg farms in the area? @fishnet1971
  21. PeckPeckChick
    Thank you for having such a kind and caring heart, this article inspired me so much. I'm only 13 right now but when I am older I hope to have the chance to rescue some. This makes me want to do more to help lives of animals. Thanks again ~ Capriana
  22. chicken farmer
    Wow,I LOVED this thank you soooo much I'm so glad people do this and I have been wanting to do this for ever but can't find a cage hen farm near me..but will do it soon!!!
  23. BYC Project Manager
    Your article is featured on the homepage carousel! Thanks for submitting it to the BYC Article Contest. Congratulations!
  24. Baymule
    I absolutely cannot buy a carton of eggs at the store. I am so glad that you were able to make the hens lives better before they went to that Great Chicken Coop In The Sky!
  25. fishnet1971
    Since Hopes death last week, I really feel I want to do more. I need to get on this and get something started for these girls.
  26. AmberRex
    I think it is awful that chickens are treated that way and then when their eggs get too big for the standard egg cartons they are discarded without thanks or thought.
    It's real nice to see that there really are lots of good people in this world. :)
  27. fishnet1971
    right place at the right time I guess. I have no clue, I guess they come across me. :)
  28. countrygirl74
    Love this story! I would be so upset if I ever saw birds in those conditions! How do you come across them?
  29. Farming Frenzy
    great article, it's a great thing you did; rescuing those birds :)
  30. CinnamonQueen
    Great job with the article and the rescue birds. Hope is looking so much better.
  31. Chickenfan4life
    Aw, this is a wonderful article! You're a good chicken mom, too...
  32. Mr MKK FARMS

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