For hundreds of millions of male chicks born on factory farms each year around the world, the future is nearly always bleak. Deemed of no value for egg or meat production, these unfortunate newborns are generally sorted out and destroyed just a few days after hatching.
But one lucky rooster found on a battery chicken farm in New Zealand somehow defied the enormous odds stacked against him, surviving long enough to be rescued -- by impersonating a hen.
The farm was about to cull 25,000 chickens housed there when a nearby animal sanctuary stepped in, offering to rescue as many as possible. As the volunteers selected which hens they'd help to spare, they were surprised to find a single rooster among them who had managed to go overlooked both as a chick, and for the next 18-months of his life.
Sanctuary owner Shawn Bishop says the rooster's remarkable tale of survival is nothing short of a miracle.
"In all the years we've been rescuing battery hens, we've never seen this before. It's a miracle that he wasn't killed at sorting as a chick, a miracle that the farmer didn't notice a male in the battery cage, and a miracle that out of 25,000 hens in that shed, he was one of the mere 129 we were able to rescue!!" says Bishop
She notes that he "must have been a quiet crower."
The lucky rooster has since been adopted out to a loving family, where he's now free to be himself, Bishop tells Fairfax NZ News:
"He is out and about and free and enjoying life at a very good home in South Auckland."
Since opening its doors in 2002, the sanctuary has been able to save more than 2,000 factory chickens from being killed, offering them the chance to lives out their days, not as mere commodities, but as creatures whose happy existence is even more valuable yet.