More than 1,000 California hens flew the coop all the way to upstate New York Thursday, according to a livestock rescue group.
The jet-setting chickens, rescued by the Animal Place shelter in Grass Valley, Calif., flew in a chartered jet from an airport in Hayward, Calif., to three shelters in upstate New York. The birds, 1,150 in all, were part of a group of 3,000 hens rescued from a commercial poultry farm where they were set to be killed when their egg production slowed.
The rescue is unprecedented, according to Animal Place director Kim Stu.
"This is the first time adult birds have ever been flown across the country," Stu said. "A generous donor offered to fly the hens across the country and we jumped at the opportunity."
After they land at the Elmira Corning Regional Airport in western New York, 700 hens will be taken to the Farm Sanctuary in Watkins Glen. Those birds will be adopted to shelters around New York and several will be placed in vegetarian and vegan homes. The chickens will live easy in New York, said Susie Coston, with the Farm Sanctuary.
"Here, they will be able to spread their wings, sunbathe, breathe fresh air and do all the things that chickens love to do," Coston said.
The remaining birds will be go to the Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary and the Catskill Animal Sanctuary.
All of the birds rescued had a portion of their beaks clipped off as hatchlings and have spent most of their lives in small coops, according to Animal Place.
Typically, egg-bearing hens in commercial farms are killed by gas once they’re about 2 years old.