Early yesterday afternoon, Compassion Over Killing (COK) released an undercover video of the atrocious mistreatment of newly-hatched ducklings and chicks at Cal-Cruz Hatchery in California. Equipped with a hidden camera early last year, an undercover investigator working with COK documented the heartbreaking cruelty that the baby animals endured from the moment they hatched. The barbarity of the abuse in the clip cannot be overstated. Video evidence showed a number of disturbing images of abuse including decapitated and mangled hatchlings caught in machinery, sick and gravely injured hatchlings left to suffer for hours, one duckling drowning in a bucket of liquid waste, unwanted hatchlings treated like trash, and baby birds being tossed into buckets up to six feet across a room.
Thankfully, Farm Sanctuary was able to step up and help rescue some of these innocent baby animals when we learned of their plight. After COK handed their disturbing video over to the Santa Cruz Animal Services Authority for further investigation, 88 birds were seized. Many had to be euthanized because they were in such bad shape, but 38 found refuge at our California Shelter. No longer faced with a life of agonizing mistreatment, the majority of ducks have since been adopted out to loving forever homes in California, Oregon and Arizona through our Farm Animal Adoption Network while eight others remain in our care.
The Cal-Cruz survivors happily splash in pools of water.
Those eight tiny survivors have grown into beautiful and healthy adult ducks, a feat tragically not possible for thousands of their fellow ducklings in hatcheries around the country. Like all ducks, they are incredibly social and spend their days close together in the sun or swimming in the nearest pond. Their liveliness and friendliness conceals their gruesome past, but highlights how resilient animals can be and how important second chances are.
Daisy and Gordy are two particularly stand-out members of the flock. Daisy’s beak may be disfigured, but she has dealt really well with her disability and gets along just fine. When it's time to eat, she skillfully digs her bill into the food bowl and scoops out as much as possible. She spends most of her time in our main pond with fellow hatchery escapees, Matt and Lenny. Because of her misshapen beak, Daisy makes nasal sounds when breathing which make her easy to find in a crowd! Because of minor health concerns, Gordy isn’t currently able to hang out with Daisy and the others so she spends her days with another survivor named Otis in a neighboring location. Incredibly boisterous, she always fluffs up her feathers and talks (loudly!) to every passerby.
The adorable Daisy duck.
The remaining three, Atlas, Aurora and Hendrix, also hang out with Daisy, Matt and Lenny in the main pond. Atlas and Aurora used to lived separately from our main group of ducks due to an initial health concern. But since then, they have been integrated into the flock and made friends with Hendrix. The three are inseparable.
Though their lives now are full of sunshine, big ponds and friends, the tragedy they escaped should not be forgotten. Similar abuse occurs every day in hatcheries, and we must keep in mind that, like the Conklin dairy incident, this type of cruelty is widespread.