Amber is an adult Red Star who was one of the 350 hens rescued by Little Red Bird Sanctuary (LRBS) after 18 to 24 months of confinement to a tiny battery cage at a commercial egg farm in California. Upon arrival to the LRBS, each of the rescued hens received a thorough health check to assess their body condition, behavior, movement, body posture, and fecal output. Following the health check, each hen receives their first nail trim. Normally, if chickens are able move about outside, they will naturally wear their nails down by scratching at the dirt, dust-bathing, jumping, and active exercise. However, because battery-caged hens spend two years of their lives confined to an area the size of a piece of notebook paper, they are unable participate in normal chicken behaviors that would otherwise keep their nails from experiencing excessive growth. Each hen is also treated for internal (roundworms, tapeworms, protozoa), and external (lice, mites, flees) parasites. Most of the birds rescued by LRBS require veterinary care post rescue. Statistically, 1 out of 10 hens rescued from commercial egg factory farms have some sort of underlying medical issue---ranging from respiratory infections, reproductive problems (such as egg-binding, tumors, and egg peritonitis), to leg fractures.
Clinical Signs that Amber was Sick
As soon as LRBS laid eyes on Amber, they could tell that she was not well. Amber had that typical ‘sick bird look’---in which she assumed a hunched over, fluffed up feather position. Her abdomen also appeared to be grossly enlarged. Amber felt so sick, that she was also struggling to breath. LRBS immediately rushed Amber to their veterinarian, Dr. Bart from the Animal Medical Center in Corona, California.
Diagnostics Performed on Amber
For Dr. Bart to understand what was going on inside of Amber’s body, he took some radiographs of her body, specifically of her reproductive tract, and performed an ultrasound. The ultrasound revealed the presence of numerous solid masses of abnormal material throughout the hen’s abdomen. These masses were suspected to be related to a reproductive-related issue, stemming from her years of excessive egg laying. The excessive size of the masses was a big concern for Dr. Bart, who advised that he would need to perform exploratory surgery very soon in order to try and save Amber’s life. Amber was scheduled to have exploratory surgery early the next morning. She would stay overnight at the vet clinic, with the other hens that had medical issues of concern.
That following morning, Dr. Bart performed exploratory surgery on Amber. However, sadly, Amber was too sick, and she ended up passed away during the procedure. Dr. Bart removed the contents that were showing up as the large masses on the ultrasound. Inspection of the contents revealed the presence of 2.3 pounds of rotting egg material and other unknown debris. The average Red Star hen weighs between 5 to 6 pounds---meaning that Amber was carrying nearly half her body weight of rotting material within her tiny abdomen.
Tribute to Amber
She and other hens are bred to lay almost triple the amount of eggs per year that a normal chicken is supposed to naturally lay---producing often 300 eggs per year. Amber was a precious soul who deserved more than she was given in this world. She was born into this world to serve as but the equivalent to a factory machine by the commercial egg laying companies. From the day her eyes first opened, up until she was rescued, Amber was a prisoner---trapped in the confines of small cage for her entire life and with the sole purpose of laying an egg. Although Amber may be gone, her memory will always remain.
About Little Red Bird Sanctuary
Little Red Bird Sanctuary is a non-profit micro-sanctuary located in Temescal Valley (unincorporated Riverside County, CA) and founded on the philosophy that all animals are individuals who deserve compassion, care, love, and respect. One of their main focuses is on rescuing ex-battery and “spent” hens from egg-laying facilities and giving them the freedom, veterinary care, and affection that will allow them to live out the rest of their lives comfortably. In addition to chickens, their residents also include ducks, pigeons, turkeys, and small parrots, such as parakeets, cockatiels, and conures. They have a passion for providing special needs animals with the unique care they require to live high-quality, happy lives, and have cared for animals that have suffered neurological problems, missing limbs, paralysis, and blindness.
About Animal Medical Center of Corona, Inc.
Animal Medical Center of Corona
is a small animal hospital in Southern California that has a special interest in working with avian and exotic animals. They believe in modern medicine with old fashioned care. The practice is a family-owned business that is owned by Dr. Bart, who received his Bachelors degree in 1981 and his Veterinary Doctorate in 1987 from University of California Davis. He has worked in the veterinary field for over 30 years and has served the Corona/Norco community since 1987.