26 January 2021

Chickens with many of their feathers missing

I want to tell you about the action we had in a chicken farm of the broiler industry

By Ahuva Binyamin

I want to tell you about the action we took in a chicken farm of the broiler industry. I have seen photos and heard stories, but never documented in a chicken coop.

The second I got in, I was extremely shocked by the ammonia smell there. I’ve been to many dairy farms and thought I had smelled everything already. It turned out I hadn’t.

The second shocking thing was the number of the chicks, thousands of them . . . three weeks old, tiny, sweet and deformed.

Some of them couldn’t even raise their head or walk because of the genetic manipulations they have gone through in order to reach a weight of 3 kg (6.5 lbs.) since a smaller weight is not profitable for the industry. A wild chicken weighs only 1 kg (about 2 lbs.) as an adult. We have met chicks who just recently hatched from their egg and already reached the weight of adult chickens.

I took a deep breath and sat down. The moment I sat down was the moment when I and the chicks united. For a few hours I became one of them, one of the small chicks who lives amid feces and urine, and smelling the ammonia vapor instead of fresh air. For a few hours I don’t see the sunrise nor the day light. I’m sitting in the dark on a filthy ground, in artificial light and fan ventilation. Everything is sealed. There’s no window. There’s no air.

I’ve been sitting there, and suddenly the little chicks gathered around me and started playing with the zipper buckles of my bag. Curious babies who crave for a bit of love and empathy.

The moment arrived when we were told that the farmer is willing to release 11 chicks. I was privileged to be one of those who carried them from the prison to freedom.

I went out, deeply excited and overwhelmed by the announcement. I changed into sterile clothes with chills running through my body.

I received the little chick into my hands. I hugged and covered her. I held her pressed against my body and whispered to her: “You are heading for a new life, a life of freedom.”

She understood me. I’m sure. She pressed against me and accepted the hug, leaned on me, her body next to my body.

It’s hard to describe this moment. Any word I may write would belittle the incredible experience, the magnificent moment, the immense excitement. Understanding that now she begins a new life. A life of freedom, love and care. Understanding that she has won life, instead of being a schnitzel or a chicken slice on some plate. I realized that the phrase “Whoever saves one life saves the world entire” is not a cliché. It is true. I had the privilege of doing so.

Woman cradling a young chicken

I was among the first activists who received the rescued chicks, but on my way to the car that was supposed to take her to the sanctuary, I lingered a little. I wanted to be with her for a little while, to keep hugging and wrapping her with the love that rose inside me. To keep giving her the feeling of the pleasant wind and the caressing sun. I knew that from now on she’s going to have a lot of all these: love, sun, wind, fresh air, fresh water to enjoy. But I didn’t want this moment to end. I didn’t want to depart from her yet, while she is hugged and wrapped in my arms, just the two of us in the whole world.

I’m not sure that I’ve managed to convey that emotional and exhilarating moment as I have experienced it. There are no words in the dictionary to describe such a powerful experience.

I hope that I’ve made you understand a little bit of what was happening inside my heart. And if not . . . you are welcome to join us for the next action and maybe you will have the privilege of feeling this way too.

Written by Ahuva Binyamin, a dedicated activist in Israel. She is with the group, Meat The Victims IL.

Here is her story as she told it originally in Hebrew:
I want to tell you about the action we had in a chicken farm of the broiler industry

Photos by Barak Mayer, courtesy of Meat The Victims IL.