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Curious, social and intelligent

Chickens are fascinating, social creatures who form complex relationships and exhibit a wide range of behaviours. They have distinct personalities, strong problem-solving skills and the ability to empathise with others. 

When given the opportunity to live a natural life, chickens spend their days foraging, dust bathing, and socialising with their peers. However, the commercial breeding and mistreatment of chickens has led to an immense scale of suffering within the animal agriculture industries.

Visitors to the sanctuary are always surprised by their lively, intelligent and affectionate nature.

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Featured rescue stories

Stories from the field
PollyAnna is a chicken surrendered many times due to her noise levels.
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Stories from the field
Albus is a rooster who is the innocent victim of a chicken-hatching project.
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Stories from the field
Myles is a rooster who was left in a cardboard box and discarded.
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Chickens facts

Chickens are individuals, just like us. No two chickens are alike — some are bold, some timid, some curious, some affectionate.

Complex communication: Chickens have a sophisticated communication system, with over 24 distinct vocalisations to convey various messages to each other, including warning calls for predators and distinct calls for food.

Good memory: Chickens have a remarkable memory and can recognize up to 100 different faces, both human and animal. They also have the ability to remember places and objects.

Chickens display empathy and can understand and share the feelings of other chickens. Studies have shown that hens can become distressed when they observe their chicks in distress.

"Chickens are very inquisitive animals with a surprising depth of intellect and feeling."

- Dr. Chris Evans
Professor of Psychology at Macquarie University

Sanctuary life

At Where Pigs Fly Farm Sanctuary, we provide our rescued chickens with a natural, enriching environment where they can thrive. They have access to spacious outdoor areas for foraging, dust bathing, and exploring. Comfortable shelters allow them to roost safely at night. Our dedicated team conducts regular health checks to ensure the well-being of our feathered friends, and we are committed to providing a lifelong home.

"Chickens are not just food-producing machines but sentient beings with feelings and emotions."

- Dr. John Webster
Emeritus Professor of Animal Husbandry at
the University of Bristol

One of the most abused animals on earth

From hatching to slaughter, chickens on factory farms are subjected to mutilation, confinement, and deprivation of the ability to live their lives as the active, social beings they are.

In 2020, over 664 million chickens were slaughtered for meat in Australia.
Over 10 million layer hens were used for egg production in Australia in 2020.
Approximately 12 million male chicks were killed in the Australian egg industry in 2020.

Chickens used for eggs

Photo: Jo-Anne McArthur

Battery cages

In Australia, millions of layer hens are confined in battery cages, where they spend their entire lives in spaces no larger than an A4 sheet of paper. This extreme confinement leads to severe physical and psychological suffering, including feather loss, bone weakness, and chronic stress. ‘Free range’ chickens have a slightly higher space requirement, and require ‘regular and meaningful’ access to the outdoors, but there is no guidance what that actually entails.

Photo: Jo-Anne McArthur

To prevent stress-induced pecking in confined conditions, chicks have the tips of their sensitive beaks cut off, often without anaesthesia or pain relief. This mutilation can lead to ongoing pain and difficulty eating.

Photo: Jo-Anne McArthur

Male chicks

Male chicks are considered waste in the egg industry since they cannot lay eggs. As a result, millions of day-old male chicks are killed each year through methods such as gassing or maceration by the egg industry.

Photo: Jo-Anne McArthur

No longer profitable

While their natural life span is between 8 and 15 years, once egg production declines, layer hens are deemed unprofitable and sent to slaughter, usually at 1.5 years old.  At the slaughterhouse, they’re unloaded, hung upside down on shackles and passed through an electrified water bath for stunning. Their throats are then slit by an automated blade. The stunning process can be inadequate, causing some birds to regain consciousness before the blade, leading to immense suffering.

Chickens used for meat

Photo: Jo-Anne McArthur

Rapid growth

Chickens raised for meat, known as broiler chickens, have been selectively bred to grow at an unnaturally fast rate. This results in numerous health problems. Many suffer from heart failure, respiratory issues, and crippling leg deformities.

Photo: Jo-Anne McArthur


Broiler chickens are raised in crowded, unsanitary conditions, where they have little room to move. They are crammed into large windowless sheds – the ammonia from their waste causes painful burns on their skin and respiratory issues. The only time they see daylight or feel fresh air is on the way to the slaughterhouse.

Photo: Jo-Anne McArthur


Broiler chickens are typically slaughtered between 5 to 7 weeks of age. Just babies. They are often subjected to rough handling during transport to the slaughterhouse, and many suffer from broken bones or severe bruising. In Australia, chickens are stunned using an electrified water bath before having their throats cut. The high-speed slaughter lines increase the risk of improper stunning and prolonged torment.

Photo: Jo-Anne McArthur

Live export

Although Australia’s live export trade primarily focuses on cattle and sheep, chickens are also exported albeit on a smaller scale. These birds endure stressful, cramped conditions during transportation, and may suffer from heat stress, injury, and dehydration. Upon arrival in destination countries, they often face inhumane slaughter practices, causing unthinkable distress.

Create a kinder world for chickens

Make your choices count.

Chickens are intelligent, social, and emotional animals but these aren’t the only reasons they deserve to be treated with kindness and respect. The fact that they are living, feeling beings, capable of experiencing joy, pain and fear is reason enough.

The most effective way to help these lively and affectionate animals is by choosing to leave them off your plate. With so many delicious and nutritious alternatives now available, it’s no wonder that more and more people are moving to a plant-based lifestyle. Why not give it a try?