Credit: Rosie's Hospice of Compassion

From factory farm to freedom: the little chicken with a big personality.

Meet Bigs... she likes puzzles, cuddles and long walks in the park. And as the 'genetic clock' ticks down on her unnaturally short life, she's making the most of every day...

Animals Australia

Animals Australia team

Last updated November 1, 2023

Chickens are killed for their meat in such vast numbers that it’s easy to lose sight of the individual. But when you’re lucky enough to meet one, you’ll never look at these funny feathered creatures the same again.

We met Bigs at Rosie’s Hospice of Compassion – a Victorian sanctuary that gives hens from the egg industry and chickens from the meat industry a second chance at life.

This joy-filled, adventurous and affectionate bird is living the life most chickens will never get to experience. And she’s savouring every moment.

WATCH her heart-warming story.

The hardest part about rescuing broiler chickens is they’ve been genetically modified to grow incredibly fast. And because their hearts don't cope well with such big body weight, you know you’re not going to have them for very long.
Rosie's Hospice of Compassion

The modern phenomenon of ‘cheap chicken’ has come at a huge cost to the welfare of the birds. Engineered over generations to grow very ‘meaty’ very quickly, chickens born into the meat industry today are around three times larger than their ancestors. This unnatural growth rate puts enormous pressure on their hearts and immature skeletons and is common across all farming systems – whether factory-farmed, free-range or RSPCA Approved.

At just 7 weeks old, Bigs was still a baby when we filmed her story. Yet that’s the age most chickens are killed for their meat. They are baby birds in adult bodies. Sadly for Bigs and other rescued chickens, there is no turning back this ‘genetic clock’ – all their carers can do is try to slow it down to give them the longest life possible.

Bigs was born into a world that values chickens not for who they are, but rather, for how much meat their bodies can produce. But thanks to the kind-hearted people at Rosie’s Hospice of Compassion, while Bigs may still have a short life, it will be one filled with love and adventure.

A white chicken and a dog sitting on the couch.
White chicken being held kindly by lady.
White chicken enjoying a walk in the park with woman.

Every kinder choice helps chickens like Bigs.

It’s the demand for chicken meat that has created the system of suffering that Bigs was born into. And it will be the demand for kinder alternatives from informed and caring consumers that will help set them free.

From schnitzels and burgers to nuggets and sausages, chicken meat is one of the easiest things to swap out in meals in favour of kinder, plant-based alternatives. Explore the ever-expanding range of tasty chicken-free products here or for more inspiration why not order your free copy of our new-look Veg Starter Kit!