Neeltje, Hendrickje and Geertje were our first hens. They were rescued from a caged farm by a Dutch rescue organisation in March 2012. We had carefully planned their arrival for months, and I had been reading books and the helpful posts on the UK’s Ex Battery Hen Forum. We already knew they were gonna be fantastic, but who could have thought these 3 would each be such unique individuals or that they would change our lives so much.
Neeltje was the leader. She had a deep bocking voice and a huge personality. She was a no-nonsense type of person–she was fine with just about anything, as long as it was done quick and efficient. She applied this philosophy to her daily life wherever possible. (When in distress, I try to ask myself: “What Would Neeltje Do”?–she is such an inspiration to me.) Neeltje’s image was that of a tough girl, but we found that secretly, she was not very brave at all, but hush! No one was supposed to know that.
Hendrickje was our middle child. She was our special princess, and she knew it. Geertje was the bottom hen, but did not let this bother her. She was scared of everything, but afraid of nothing. And at the end of the day, she would be the one with the fullest crop, despite her position in the pecking order. Geertje took care of Geertje.
In May 2013 we had our first experience with reproductive issues.
Hendrickje was diagnosed with EYP (egg yolk peritonitis). The University suggested a risky operation, but through the Ex Battery Hen Forum I had learned about Suprelorin implants to prevent laying, and so I asked for those. Hendrickje got her implant plus medication at our local vet, and recovery could begin. It took a while, but she developed into the most amazing silky soft beauty you could imagine. She was our pride and joy, and she had a total of 15 implants before she died of heart and liver issues in January 2017.
We managed to give her 3.5 years extra thanks to Suprelorin, which is incredible, and we are so grateful.
Eventually Neeltje and Geertje also developed EYP, and received their implants. They have since passed, but also much later than they would have without implants.
Our current Microsanctuary residents are
– Sjoerdje and Claasje (rescued from Belgian cages in July 2015).
– Jacobje (rescued from a German barn in October 2017, along with her sweet sister Albertje, for whom help sadly came too late, and who died 3 months after her rescue as a result of an old egg impaction).
– Evertje (a stray rescued from the local shelter in January 2018).
All these hens have had Suprelorin implants for reproductive safety. Sjoerdje and Claasje had issues with increasingly uncomfortable wrinkled egg shells. Jacobje appears to have a saggy vent. Albertje had a prolapse. Evertje is a special story; she has an implant not just to protect her from a horrible fate like Albertje’s, but also to make her comb shrink! She only has one eye and it is hidden behind her huge floppy comb. We are so delighted that we will get to give her the gift of sight soon!
We are thankful that valuable information on chicken health is spread on places such as the Facebook group Vegans with Chickens, and for initiatives like the Microsanctuary Movement for supporting us and sanctuaries around the globe. There is not a lot of official information nor medication for chickens out there, and sharing our experiences online is vital and crucial.
But most of all we need to thank to Neeltje, Hendrickje, and Geertje, for teaching us veganism is the only way to go!
Neeltje, Hendrickje & Geertje’s sisters is the recipient of a Microsanctuary Movement grant for hen reproductive healthcare!