Neptune is an ex-battery who was rescued by Dreamer’s Hen Rescue (DHR) just minutes before she was to be slaughtered, at an abattoir (slaughterhouse) in Australia. When DHR arrived at the facility, they immediately began saving as many hens as they could. All of a sudden, DHR heard a sad cry from one of the hens and lots of commotion. They start to run over to where they heard the sound and sadly witnessed how one sad little hen was being dragged brutally by her legs by one of the factory workers---with her delicate little head smashing against the ground with every step. The workers did not care. DHR begged them please to stop and to hand the traumatized bird over to them. Thankfully they agreed without a fuss. DHR immediately collected the bird from the workers and held her in their arms. Neptune was pretty traumatized from the whole ordeal and it was obvious that she had sustained multiple injuries. Besides Neptune, DHR saved 113 other souls that afternoon. After 18-months of living in a tiny cage with the sole purpose of producing eggs as if their bodies were the equivalent to machines, these hens finally had the opportunity to actually live.
Assessment of Neptune's Injuries
When Neptune was rescued, both of her tiny legs had endured fractures in multiple bones and both of her wings were broken. The severity of her injuries was so extensive that her rescuers were considering ending her suffering, but then reconsidered, for they realized that despite all the trauma and pain endured from her injuries---that this little hen was still fighting to survive. They couldn’t deny her that opportunity—as from the day she was first hatched until the day she was rescued by Dreamer’s Hen Rescue---Neptune was never given a chance. Therefore, Dreamer’s Hen Rescue immediately rushed Neptune to Bird Vet Melbourne (BVM).
Trip to Bird Vet Melbourne
Upon arrival at BVM, the veterinarians initially conducted a physical exam to access her overall health condition. They suspected that Neptune had sustained multiple bone fractures, however in order to understand just how bad her internal injuries were---the doctors at BVM needed to take radiographs of her body and legs. The radiographs confirmed that Neptune would need surgery in order to pin her broken bones back together, for them to heal properly. Neptune’s surgery was a success—however the road to recovery was far from over.
Radiograph of Neptune's broken legs
Neptune’s Road to Recovery
Following her surgery, because Neptune had so many broken bones, DHR discussed how best to position her body in order for her to be able to recover without pain. Because laying her on either side of her body for any length of time would be painful (due to the wing fractures), they realized that they would need to design Neptune a therapeutic device to help provide her the support she needed during her recovery from surgery.
Neptune's Physiotherapy session
A friend and volunteer at the Dreamer’s Hen Rescue constructed a wheelchair-like device that allowed Neptune to be supported with her legs underneath her. As she gained strength and movement she could put her feet on the ground, allowing her to option to put as much or as little pressure on her legs as she wanted. It also had wheels on it in the hopes that Neptune would be able to roll herself around.
The wheelchair was a great success---as it worked exactly how DHR had hoped. Neptune took her first unassisted steps outside of the chair only 3-weeks following her surgery.
Neptune in her therapy chair recovering from surgery
Her veterinarian was both surprised and thrilled with the fast progress Neptune had made. Neptune now spends her time walking around the garden on her healed legs, foraging on plants, scratching the ground for bugs, and dust-bathing in dirt---just as chickens were meant to do.
The Commercial Egg Laying Industry
You see, Neptune was considered to be what the Commercial Poultry Industry describes as a "spent hen"---a term used to describe laying hens that are no longer considered profitable to the egg laying factories.
Neptune is only but one of the 6.6 billion laying hens worldwide, which produce over 1 trillion eggs per year---eggs used for both breeding and consumption purposes. These numbers exclude the male chicks hatched, which get thrown into a grinder and killed at not even one day of age.
The excessive number of eggs the hens’ bodies produce over their short life span, has a huge impact on their little bodies---as they were biologically not designed to naturally lay as many eggs as they do. Over the past decade, the commercial poultry industry has modified egg laying breeds through selective breeding, in order to lay an unnatural number of overly large eggs. The resulting impact from this is the high incidence of reproductive problems such as egg binding, bacterial infections and tumors. These hens also have a high risk of bone fractures, with over 20 to 80% of birds developing at least one bone fracture prior to their slaughter.
About Dreamer’s Hen Rescue
Dreamer’s Hen Rescue (DHR) is an animal rights organization located in Australia that is dedicated to rescuing, rehabilitating and rehoming farmed animals, predominantly chickens. The organization was named after Dreamer, a rescued hen who they will forever hold dear in their heart, for she dreamed of a better world---a world where people choose kindness over cruelty. Follow DHR on their Facebook
Where to Buy Neptune’s Wheelchair
Chicken Therapy Chairs was started up by the kind friend and volunteer that assisted Dreamer's Hen Rescue with Neptune. Because she received so many inquires about the wheelchair she had made for Neptune, she decided that she would try selling them to others--so that their chickens can also benefit similar to Neptune. The chairs are designed to assist in the recovery & rehabilitation of chickens experiencing injury, disability or post-surgical procedures.
Facebook Page: @chickentherapychairs
About Bird Vet Melbourne
Bird Vet Melbourne (BVM) is a full service veterinary hospital that specializes in all avian species-- -anything from exotic parrots, finches and canaries to backyard chickens. The hospital is outfitted with the latest medical technology and equipment. BVM is located in south eastern Melbourne, Australia and open 7 days a week. BVM is passionate about bird health and welfare, and their entire staff are highly trained and experienced working with birds. Dr. Phil Sacks is the owner of BVM, and he works alongside Dr. Michelle Sutherland and Dr. Esther Yuen. Drs Sacks and Sutherland have postgraduate qualifications in avian medicine (Membership of the Australian and New Zealand College of Veterinary Scientists (MANZCVS)), and Dr. Sutherland will be sitting examinations to become a specialist in avian medicine in 2018. Dr. Yuen is currently training towards her MANZCVS qualifications.