GRASS VALLEY (CBS13) - Thousands of abused hens were mutilated, covered in feces, and left for dead when a local animal sanctuary stepped in.
Animal Place sanctuary in Grass Valley says the hens, which were cooped up in small cages at an egg farm, were in distress when they were rescued.
"We saved 3,000 lives," said Anna, who works at Animal Place.
This is the hens' new home is Animal Place. Just by looking at the birds, you would have no idea where they came from.
"I pulled these girls out of the battery cages and this was just awful living conditions," said Anna.
An unidentified egg farmer in California allowed the sanctuary to save the hens that were up for slaughter.
"There are rows of cages with about three feet of feces piled beneath them," said Toni, an Animal Place spokesperson.
Three hens confined to one cage.
"The cages were about the size of two pieces of paper," said Toni.
Those who survived had never touched the ground.
"When the birds die often they just leave them in the cages," said Marji, a sanctuary spokesperson. "Some of those birds were melded decomposing into the cage floor."
Marji Beach says it's standard practice for egg farmers to cut off the chicken's beaks.
"Debeaking is incredibly cruel. It's painful, it leaves them with permanent disfigurement for the rest of their lives," she said.
"It's like you losing your fingers; you can't brush your hair," she said.
Their toenails, never cut, are now four inches long.
"It's just such a terrible injustice. It's so sad," she said. "They had never bathed in the sun, they had never even flapped their wings."
Animal Place created an open space for the hens to roam. Cautiously they step outside while others bask in the sunshine.
"It makes me want to cry," said Jamie, who works at Animal Place.
"They've never seen sun, walk on solid ground. Here we are giving them the ability to do that is just amazing. It brings tears to my eyes," said Anna.
It's a fresh start for a new life for the birds.
"You can see them actually become chickens here and it's exciting," said Jamie.
Animal Place says they cannot identify the specific egg farm for fear they may not be able to rescue more hens in the future. They also say these are normal practices for egg production, so no charges will be filed.
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