Give some Hens a Happy Home – Diary of a Rocket Gardener

Woohoo! I’m adopting 4 new hens next weekend! If you read my post the other week (see below), you will know that about 18 months ago I adopted 3 lovely hens that were on the way to be slaughtered. They were rescued, along with several hundred others, by the British Hen Welfare Trust. Sadly they died earlier in the autumn, but there is a rehoming coming up next weekend and I’m going to go and collect 4 new lovely girls. If you’re keen to give some hens a nice, new home, please have a look at their rehoming dates coming up across the country – next weekend (14/15th) there are rehoming days in Cambridge, Cheshire, Cumbria, Devon, Cornwall, Essex, Lancashire, Yorkshire and Northumberland.

BHWT is a wonderful charity that organises the rehoming of thousands of commercial laying hens that would otherwise be slaughtered at the young age of 18 months, deemed no longer productive or of commercial value.

These rescue hens tend to have a much shorter life span than that of a domestic chicken – they are usually calcium deficient, and much more prone to ovarian cancer and other illnesses like egg peritonitis. The ex-caged hens will never have seen daylight, and whilst the “battery cages” have been banned, the new colony cages offer little extra space. A cage of 80 hens will have 4 nesting boxes for them all to share (to put this in context, most hen houses designed for 4-6 birds will have 2 nest boxes). The hens also have an impressive sounding 20% more individual space that actually translates to the equivalent of an A4 sheet of paper plus an extra Christmas card. Not good. Feather pecking is a problem because they are so overcrowded, and many of them leave their farm looking ready to roast (I’m sorry, but that’s just how it is).

It sounds unreal that these conditions are present in this day and age, and I’m sure we are all very aware of choosing to buy free-range eggs, and free range chicken. Organic too. However, these eggs filter into our diets without us really knowing…those chocolate brownies in the cafe at the counter, that ready-made quiche from the shops, that packet of custard.

BHWT’s rehoming days gives these hens a chance to enjoy a chicken retirement in the great outdoors, with grass to peck, soil to scratch in and space to explore. If you are keen to have your own hens, whether as a first time owner or to add a few extras to your existing flock, please consider giving these girls a chance!

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