Monday, December 6, 2010

Stories of Hope (Dec. 6): Helping Chickens Stay Warm

Chickens are on the receiving end of the worst brutality imaginable. They are packed into dark spaces, pushed together in crowds of tens of thousands, forced to gain weight faster than they're meant to (usually twice as fast as normal) and far beyond their normal weight level. As the group Compassion in World Farming noted: "The birds are pushed to reach their slaughter weight in just forty days." (Source) Once they are ready to be slaughtered, they end up dying in a cold and impersonal assembly-line fashion. These creatures - capable of forming bonds, capable of enjoying sunny days and beautiful grassy fields... sentient beings with feelings and emotions - end up living short lives that end in the most brutal way imaginable. Once they're dead, they end up statistics, food on dinner plates, bones in the garbage.

But some human beings are determined to help these beautiful creatures. In England, there's a group of volunteers that does something quite extraordinary. These kind-hearted folks knit sweaters for chickens that have been rescued from commercial farms. Since the summer, compassionate animal lovers have knit more than 100 sweaters for chickens. Due to the awful living conditions in chicken farms, many of these poor birds end up losing a lot of their feathers, which makes them especially vulnerable to the cold weather. The knitters are from Hebben Bridge, West Yorkshire, and they're united in the belief that these extraordinary chickens deserve to live lives of dignity and comfort. To that end, they've held "knit-ins" - in which they make numerous sweaters for the rescued chickens. As organizer Amy Leader put it: "In the winter, the hens need a little bit of help keeping warm." She added that finding volunteers has actually been quite easy. "Everyone went mad for it and wanted to do it straight away." (Source)

The knit-ins will continue through the winter and Leader predicts they will become a tradition in the UK. In fact, with Christmas approaching, some of the knitters are making festive outfits for the featherless chickens. "Maybe we can make little Santa hats for them," said Leader. "The possibilities are endless."

Proof again - as if we need more - that there are plenty of wonderful people out there who want to help - not hurt - our animal friends. If this isn't what the spirit of Christmas is all about, then what is?

1 comment:

  1. This is a great story, I shared it with a lot of folks....good stuff.