Left to right: Fleur (Coral hen), Hermione (Columbine hen), Myrtle (Bluebelle hen) and Ginny (Speckledy hen).
A year on and the hybrid hens are all grown up, if a little scruffy looking (they’re currently going through a ‘mini moult’). Have you noticed how big their combs are now, compared to last year? Especially the Coral hen, Fleur, her comb is so large it flops over one side of her face, covering one of her eyes.
Occasionally, a gust of wind lifts her floppy comb up high into the air!
It’s taken a while for Fleur and Hermione to get used to me, I cannot pick them up yet but I can reach out and touch them without feathers flying everywhere, occasionally I get a disapproving peck on my hand. Ouch! These breeds are known to be ‘flighty’ (they certainly are timid birds), having always kept rescue hens I’ve never experienced this with chickens before, ex-caged hens are not usually nervous of people for very long which is quite surprising really.
They’re all good layers, particularly Ginny and Fleur, hardly ever missing a day. The next photos are especially for Melissa Aldana, probably Myrtle’s biggest fan! (well, apart from me of course).
Posted by The Garden Smallholder on May 16, 2013
Do you have room in your chicken coop and space in your garden? Can you offer a retirement home to ex-caged laying hens? Yes? Little Hen Rescue would love to hear from you!
Another rescue is scheduled for June 15th with the majority of lucky ladies going to Little Hen Rescue’s base in Norfolk, the rest to Cambridgeshire with collection points in Manea and Haddenham (small amount near Grafham Water).
Reserve your hens today via Little Hen Rescue’s website, choose where you’d like to collect your hens and email the appropriate area (Norfolk or Cambs).
Posted by The Garden Smallholder on May 9, 2013
Posted by The Garden Smallholder on April 24, 2013
Old Emily hen
This is Emily. Her life as a laying hen started in a barren cage roughly the same size as an A4 piece of paper, caged with many other hens to lay cheap eggs for the consumer and food industry. I rehomed her (along with 5 other hens) via Bedfordshire based hen rescue Free At Last
on 20th April 2008. That was 5 years ago.
Emily rotavating soil in the veg garden
At 15-18 months old, Emily and many hens like her are considered ‘spent’ (meaning she was in her second year of laying and egg production tends to dip slightly), mass production units such as battery farming simply replace spent hens with younger ones. Emily would’ve been sent to slaughter if it wasn’t for the great work of hen rescues up and down the country. Barren cages have since been replaced with enrichment cages (a perch, nesting material and slightly more room) but it’s still a cage at the end of the day.
Emily quickly became part of the family
Emily with her favourite friend
Emily blowing a kiss
Emily enjoying a dust bath
Homes are always needed for hens like Emily, if you’re interested in rehoming some ex-caged hens please take a look at Ex Battery Hens – The Hen Rehoming Hub
to find your nearest hen rescue. Emily is the last of my original ex battery hens, outliving the many others that I rehomed over the years and that makes her extra special to me. Sadly, she isn’t in the best of health at the moment and I know deep down I have to do the right thing by her and let her go with the help of my superb avian vet. It’s breaking my heart into million pieces, I’m not good with these situations and it never gets any easier. I know she’s had a long life for a hen that was never bred to be a happy garden hen, but I always want more for rescue hens, for me, it’s never long enough.
Thank you for reading her story and for your interest in rehoming hens just like her.
Posted by The Garden Smallholder on April 21, 2013
Rescue hens make great pets and are very friendly
Would you like to re-home some rescue hens? Little Hen Rescue regularly need pet home for rescue hens to live out the rest of their lives. They currently have hens looking for homes that were recently rescued from enrichment cages, most are well feathered and still capable of laying but this can never be guaranteed.
From my own experiences of keeping rescue hens what I can guarantee is this; any new hen rehomer will quickly adore their new feathery friends and form a close bond, you’ll suddenly wonder where missing hours in your day went until you realise they were spent watching these lovely natured hens finding their feet, visibly enjoying being a real chicken for once in their lives. I cannot stress enough how rewarding it is to witness the changes as they blossom into beautiful garden hens with just a little TLC. It’s certainly one of the best things I’ve ever done.
Collection points from Norfolk, Cambridge and Essex with the main bulk of hens being kept at Little Hen Rescue’s base in Norfolk. If you can offer a home to some deserving hens then please get in touch with Little Hen Rescue by applying via LHR website: http://www.littlehenrescue.co.uk/Pages/Adoptinghens.aspx
Ex Battery Hens Forum (you can find me there), a friendly community to chat with other people who keep rescue hens http://www.exbatteryhens.com
Hen Rehoming Hub: Find a hen rescue near you! http://www.exbatteryhens.org.uk/
Posted by The Garden Smallholder on April 4, 2013
Eh? What the?!
Well it isn’t mine! Hrmph!
Posted by The Garden Smallholder on March 20, 2013
We had planned to visit the allotment again yesterday but attempting to weed in heavy rain and hail didn’t seem very appealing. It was far too wet and cold to do anything constructive so we decided to stay home and tackle a job from our long list. Despite the new chicken run roof (put on about a month ago), the ground was being saturated by wind-driven rain and our poor hens were sinking inside their muddy enclosure. As predicted, the grass didn’t survive enthusiastic chicken feet for very long and the ground quickly became a swamp. Leaving the ground like this will eventually cause disease problems.
The first thing we did was to attach a sheet of tarp to the back of the run (another piece is needed to finish off the back and side), we used bricks to weight it down giving a snug fit. It doesn’t look particularly appealing but it does the job of keeping the rain out. After generously sprinkling Stalosan F poultry disinfectant over the soil we slabbed the floor of the enclosure using patio slabs stored away in our garage since moving day. The sodden ground made it really easy to bed them in.
To finish off, a generous heap of horse bedding (chopped straw and dust extracted shavings mix) on top of the slabbed chicken run floor and the girls are dry and happy again. Our chicken enclosure is far too big to move around to fresh ground, slabbing the floor over prevents the ground from becoming ‘sick’ and prevents rats and predators from tunnelling underneath. It’s simple to clean too. Patio slabs are expensive to buy so keep an eye out for them on websites like Freecycle.
Posted by The Garden Smallholder on March 18, 2013
I wish this post was about beautiful red poppies, just like the ones currently growing in the wildflower area of my veg garden. Sadly, this post is about the loss of my beautiful hen, Poppy. She had a heart attack yesterday, it was all very quick and a huge shock.
Rescued in 2009 from a battery farm, she came here as a tiny bald hen. Her feathers started to grow back, the colour returned to her once pale face and she grew in confidence. I watched, as she blossomed into one of the most beautiful hens I’ve ever cared for. Recently she bonded well with my bluebell hen, Myrtle. Typical of her calm nature.
Poppy helping herself to the brassica in the veg garden
I shall miss her terribly and I’m sure Myrtle will too.
Posted by The Garden Smallholder on August 4, 2012
It’s been a while since I posted some photos of the hybrid hens, these were taken last month. Emily and Poppy, the old ex-battery hens make an appearance too.
Our Speckledy hen lays dark brown eggs. She’s lovely and very placid unlike the white Coral hen, she’s a lunatic!
Myrtle the Bluebell hen loves hanging out in the herb patch, it’s her favourite place to have a dust bath.
Emily, our old ex-battery hen has taken quite a shine to our Coral hen, Fleur. As you can see, Emily is a big old bird!
Hermione and her fabulous ‘hair’!
Myrtle hanging out in the herb patch again, we gave her the correct name!
Each hen lays a different coloured egg which makes it really easy to tell who laid each morning, this can be useful sometimes. I was hoping our Skyline hen would lay blue or green eggs, turns out she lays pastel colours instead but they’re still pretty!
Posted by The Garden Smallholder on July 27, 2012
The sun came out yesterday, just briefly, but long enough to let the new rescue hens out in a run, allowing them to feel the warm sunshine on their skin for the very first time in their lives.
Thanks for all your lovely comments for Willow and Grace!
Posted by The Garden Smallholder on July 11, 2012