Chickens

Rays of Sunshine

rescue hen

I like the title of this post. It describes something positive, something happy and warming. It’s exactly how I felt yesterday, collecting our new rescue hens. Three little girls came home with us to start a new life, they’re a much-needed tonic for me and everything I can possibly give them will be a tonic for them too. I’m pouring every ounce of optimism and energy that I have left (after a very traumatic few weeks) into ‘fixing’ these lovely little hens. They truly are rays of sunshine.

rescue hen

They’re a bit hen-pecked I know, also very tired and extremely pale. One hen in particular is terrified of everything, including other hens, but she’ll come round once she realises she doesn’t have to hide or be afraid for her life anymore. I named her ‘Pumpkin’ because she travelled home on my lap wrapped in an orange blanket. The name just seemed to fit. It will take a little longer for her to adjust than the others (sometimes, as I watch Pumpkin pitifully trying to make herself invisible by crouching low to the floor or trying desperately to find somewhere to hide because another hen joined her at the feeder, I find myself drifting off and thinking about how awful her time in a cage must have really been).

rescue hens

Don’t allow their current appearance to mislead you, as sorry as they look they’re very interested in what this new life with us has to offer, adjusting to the new accommodation, environment, sounds, smells and us humans very quickly, they literally just get on with it and I’m always in awe of this reaction from newly rescued hens.

rescue hen

Just how long these dear little hens have left in this world is unknown, it could be months, it could be years. I don’t care about eggs, it’s not what they’re here for, whatever time they have it will be miles much better than they’ve previously known and hopefully I can put a ray of sunshine back into their lives too.

Quick edit: A little snippet video of Pumpkin, feeling the sunshine

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Little Hen Rescue Appeal for Homes

Little Hen Rescue is a Norfolk based poultry rescue, rescuing and re-homing battery hens, barn hens and other types of poultry including turkeys, geese and ducks. Little Hen Rescue currently have a large number of ex battery hens waiting for good homes, the space is needed to be able to carry out further planned rescues. Could you offer a pet home for some deserving ex battery hens? If you think you can, or you are in need of more information please contact Little Hen Rescue through their website:

http://www.littlehenrescue.co.uk/

Homes are what Little Hen Rescue really need at the moment, there are other ways of helping by spreading the word elsewhere – advertising in your local vets for example would be very helpful. Perhaps you feel you would like to offer a small donation? Donations are always gratefully received by Little Hen Rescue to help cover food, medical and transport costs.  Little Hen Rescue is a non-profit organisation, they exist simply to improve the lives of current UK laying hens. They will from time to time take in other poultry where space allows. 

On behalf of Little Hen Rescue, thank you for reading this appeal.

Chickens

Ex Battery Hens One Year of Freedom

We have another ‘henniversary’ going on here, Becki and Hope, one year out of the cages today. I was a rescue co-ordinator this time last year for Little Hen Rescue and I helped to re-home just under 100 ex battery hens from my garden smallholding. I wasn’t planning on keeping any of the hens for myself, but for different reasons Becki and Hope bought a ticket to stay.

It was a rocky road for them both and reaching this milestone makes it all the more special. Happy freedom day girls!

Chickens

New Hens Photo Update

Just a few photos to show how well our 3 new ex battery hens are doing, seeing as the weather is being horrid at the moment (so fed up of this wind, rain and hail) it has been quite difficult to get them outside on grass at times.

Dot and Ethel are disabled girls, Ethel appears to be using her bad leg more but Dot has the odd day when she won’t use her bad leg at all but she is getting stronger all the time. Poppy was our little oven ready chicken but not anymore!

Anyway, here they are:

Im really pleased with their progress, they are so hand tame and a real joy to look after.

Chickens

New Hens

For the past couple of weeks I have been tending to the needs of 3 new ex battery hens. These hens were being ‘fostered’ by friends of mine,  lovely ladies who dedicate their spare time to caring for smashed up ex battery hens that cannot be re-homed straight away. They foster ‘off their legs’ girls from the  hospital wing of Little Hen Rescue and give them one to one care at their homes. These 3 hens were ready for the next stage of their new lives, we had some room so I agreed to take them on.

We have named them Poppy, Dot and Ethel. Poppy was very bald, known as a ‘oven ready’. She was weak when rescued and painfully thin but she is doing brilliantly now and almost fully feathered. Dot and Ethel are leg issue girls, only two good legs between them but they get about in their own’ elderly’ fashion and seem to grab life by the scruff of the neck. Yeah they are slow and don’t particularly look ‘pretty’ (Ethel is de-beaked, probably as a chick GRRRR) but I think they are amazing, seeing as they could not walk at all about a month ago. One of our other ex battery hens ( Becki ) was a hop-along, she does great now and her slight limp is hardly noticable.

They are all doing well so far and a pleasure to look after, Ethel is extremely hand tame and a funny little character. She has the most adorable face although I realise not everyone will see what I do. Eventually her beak will naturally wear down. Dot and Ethel may never walk properly again, only time will tell with these two wonky girls. If they stay disabled then it may be best that they live together in accommodation suited to them,rather than being mixed in with the other hens. We shall just have to see how things go.

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Insight into a Battery Farm

Just one row of a battery farm

I know this post is going to shock and appall, but if it makes just one person stop and think twice about buying eggs or produce with eggs from caged hens, then I have achieved what I set out to do. I have permission to use the photos that you see, they were taken by a friend during a real rescue. The farm in question is now closed down for good, but there are many like this one and they are very real. The photo above shows just one row of the farm that held 15,000 battery hens.

A battery hen starts her miserable ‘life’ as a hatchery chick. Thousands of chicks are artificially hatched, no mother hen to nurture and protect. The fluffy cute yellow chicks are sexed, the males go along a moving conveyor, drop off the end and down to their death. They are minced alive. Females take another route on the conveyor. At some point they are de-beaked with a hot blade, slicing the tip of their beaks off. This is a painful and common practise to prevent them causing injuries to each other due to frustration and boredom pecking when in the cages together. Often the de-beaking goes wrong and the chick is left with a deformed beak.

The chicks are reared and then transported to their prison. Hens are crammed into tiny cages at 16 weeks old, normally 5 to 6 hens share a cage but at times as many as 8 or 1o hens have been found squashed together. There is not enough space to turn around, preen or flap their wings.They have no perch, no nesting material, no means to dustbathe or carry out natural instincts. They never see or feel the sun, wind, rain or feel grass between their toes. The cages have wire bottoms that are on a slant so that the eggs roll away onto a conveyor belt, their claws are overgrown and their feet are bruised and painful from standing on wire for over a year. No straw nests for these hens, they never even see the eggs that they lay.

 A battery cage which have been known to hold up to 8 hens

Demonstrating how small the battery cages are

The conveyor belt

When the motor starts up the chains start rattling, the hens go into a frenzy. Yes, its feeding time. Dusty mash is provided as long as the hens can get their necks through the bars of their cage, the weaker hens often get trampled on in the rush to get prime position. Many hens get their beaks caught and maimed in the chain that pulls their food along. Water is provided through a nipple drinker, if a hen is weak or hurt she will go without. These hens survive, they certainly do not have a life. Dead mummified hens have been found in the cages alongside live hens. Some farms use a feed with a hormone additive, this forces the hens to lay twice a day resulting in large swollen bottoms and increasing the risks of hens internal laying from being burnt out. Most battery farms use a  feed with chemicals / colourants added to produce bright orange egg yolks, fooling the consumer into believing the egg is as good visually as a fresh free range egg.

The feed cruel feed chain

Nipple drinkers

After their confinement of approximately 18 months (some longer, depends on the time of year) they are caught by the legs, shackled and killed by having their throats cut or dipped alive into boiling water. You may have eaten a few in your cheap value chicken pie or chicken soup. Some farms deprive hens due for rescue of food, they are not cost-effective to feed if they no longer serve a purpose. The ‘lucky’ hens are rescued and rehomed but a certain number of them cannot be rehomed straight away due to disability, disease or injuries such as broken wings and legs caused by calcium deficiency. Remember, the eggs are important to the farmer, not the hens health. The injured or ‘off their legs’ hens are looked after behind the scenes by the rescues and a handful of dedicated people who foster them till they are healthy enough to be rehomed. Most are crawling with lice and need to be wormed. Although rehoming days are a happy affair, sadly not all of the hens make it but at least they made it out of the cages to die in a dignified way. 

I have a couple of these hens that I describe living here with us, once disabled but now living a happy and normal life, just as a chicken should. Im not trying to offend, im trying to get the message out there that this does go on. We are no longer living on rations in a war-torn country, it does not have to be this way if people refuse to allow it to happen. More and more people are turning to free range, organic free range or better still keeping their own hens in the back garden if this is an option. Buy locally if you can, support the British free range farms, put pressure on Tesco’s to stop selling these barbaric eggs on their shelves. Check food labels for ‘hidden’ battery eggs that are in many foods such as ice cream, cakes, Quiche and even baby food. Ask when eating out if the eggs they use are free range. Food labels should read free range egg, products with ingredients that contain egg yolk powder /egg white powder are normally battery eggs.

Please, be their voice.

If you are able to keep a few laying hens in your garden, please contact one of the following rescues and adopt some ex battery hens:

http://littlehenrescue.co.uk

http://www.bhwt.org.uk

http://www.henrehomers.net

http://free-at-last.org.uk

The best sight of all, an empty farm.

Empty battery farm

Chickens

An Appeal for Little Hen Rescue

Little Hen Rescue have 500 ex battery hens looking for homes. If you have the space and time, please consider giving a few ex battery hens a home this Christmas, it will be one of the most rewarding things you have ever done.

Please go to their web site for more details.
http://littlehenrescue.co.uk/contactus.aspx

Little Hen Rescue are holding another re-homing day this Saturday, contact them for more details.

Chickens

Goodbye Brenda

Brenda looking beautiful

Brenda, one of our ex battery hens passed away today. She took herself off to the coop which is where I found her. She had 8 months of freedom, I only wish it could have been longer. I don’t like to remember her how she arrived, there are photos of her on the blog in the early days but I will use her recent ones for this post. I cannot write much more, im sorry, my heart just aches.

 Brenda

Goodbye Brenda, I will never forget you girl x

Chickens

At Last! Rose Grows Feathers!

Rose October 2009

Well, it’s finally happened. Rose, one of our lovely ex battery hens has at long last started to regrow her feathers. After a few false starts of feather regrowth, and spending last winter quite naked, our lovely little chicken looks beautiful again. The best thing about this is she has gone off lay, Rose is notorious for laying monster size eggs which worry me stupid and I do fear that this will finish her off eventually.

She has been out of the battery cage now for 18 months (along with 5 others) which is fantastic, even longer than I had hoped for. Bald or clothed I love her just the same, im just so pleased to see her looking so healthy and happy. Long may her freedom continue.

Chickens

Sunshine Girls

Becki&Hope

Just a few photos of our two new ex-convicts soaking up the sun. Very pleased with Becki’s progress, the limp that she had has almost disappeared, I’m pretty certain that she was stiff from lack of exercise. New fresh feathers are already sprouting and both lay tiny little eggs.

Hope

Becki

What a big hat Becki has!

Becki

Becki

Becki&Hope

Its too soon to join some of the other girls, they need more rest to build up weak limbs and they both could do with gaining more weight. Some of their poops have been a bit iffy so they are being sent to a poultry lab for testing, just to be on the safe side. If anything is lingering then it can be sorted quickly.

I think they are enjoying life at our Battery Hen Haven!

Chickens

More Hens

 

Becki

Well it was bound to happen. Our flock has expanded yet again.

In May I volunteered to help Little Hen Rescue rehome ex battery hens by rehoming hens from our garden. It was a very emotional experience, watching the hens go to their forever homes with keen, kind and very excited folk. It was heart warming to say the least. With the help of a friend and family members, we rehomed 94 hens. Unfortunately there were also a few hens off their legs, basically just too weak to rehome at that point and needed TLC. They were all put safely together on blankets, given food and water and then taken by a friend of ours to be cared for one to one.

After the long exhausting day I was full of mixed emotions. Elated for the hens that were sleeping on straw for the first time in their miserable lives, sad for the hens still enduring the battery farm and missing one of the poorly girls. I just could not get her from my mind, she kept me awake at night thinking about her. Of course, I knew she was being well cared for but my mind kept drifting back to her. I kept in regular contact with their foster mum and was updated on how all the girls were getting on but it was not enough. I had to give her a home here with us and our other nutty ex batts.

Hope

So, now I have 2 new hens. Whoops did I say 2 how did that happen? I have named them Hope and Becki. Hope is the hen that I could not shake and Becki is named after a friend. Hope is walking well and very skittish. Becki is still lame on one leg so she needs a bit more care. They are bonding together nicely and will remain together until they are a little stronger before being introduced to Chrissie, Auntie Marge and Brenda.

They had a lovely day yesterday in the late afternoon sunshine, dust bathing on the lawn and soaking up the warmth into their tired out bodies. Its tear jerking watching an ex battery hen experience these simple pleasures for the first time. Although I have witnessed it many times before, it still gets to me.

Wish them luck.

Chickens

Scruffy, Rebellious or Something Else?

Rose Running

At the end of last year I blogged about one of our chickens, Rose, the fact that she seems to have been stuck in some kind of strange moult since like forever. I’m afraid to say she still has not feathered up. In fact, she is worse than ever. Now I don’t know whether or not she is just one rebellious old boot, preferring to be a scruff monster, or, that maybe just maybe she is on the change. OMG.

I have noticed that she now has tiny spur like knobbles on the back of her both her legs, the very part of the leg that spurs would be present if on a cockerel. Also, her wattles now hang much lower than before, they are noticeably bigger and boy like. When Rose came to us in April 2008, although a tatty teddy she was pretty well feathered for an ex batt, OK apart from missing neck feathers but still not bad at all. Not long after her arrival she just went into a permanent state of moult. All different parts of her and stages that have seemed to take such a long time to finish, so much so that she would start a new moult somewhere else on her body before she had. She lost all her head and neck feathers, regrew them but then lost them all straight away. This has been going on for some time now. She has this habit of over preening herself, pulling and plucking new feathers as she does it. But then again she does have a twisty beak so perhaps preening is just not easy for her.

 I can rule out  a few potential reasons such as being bullied, boredom, lice, mites, lack of protein, poor quality feed etc but I still cannot work out why she is like this. Right now she resembles a scrubbing brush. She is healthy, laying OK (but not as often as she was for that matter) and doing everything that chickens like to do. I cannot work it out. If someone out there has the magic answer I would dearly like to know. I would love to see Rose fully feathered and looking beautiful. Perhaps she is just, well, getting on a bit?

Chickens

Little Hen Rescue Need Homes For 10,000 Battery Hens

Little Hen Rescue desperately need homes for the last remaining battery hens of a farm due to shut down. The slaughter man has been booked by the farmer for 29th June, these hens will be slaughtered unless homes are found ASAP. After spending 18 miserable months of their short lives in a hell hole, never seeing daylight or grass, never knowing what the sun feels like on their backs, they will be held by the legs and roughly put into crates, loaded up like rubbish and killed. All for cheap crappy eggs.

Many co-ordination points have and are being set up to accommodate as wide an area for re homing as possible. If you can give a home to some very needy hens, or can help in other ways ie putting up posters or donating, please contact LHR @ http://www.littlehenrescue.co.uk

If you have been thinking about re homing some ex battery hens but are unsure, please feel free to join the Ex Battery Hens Forum for very friendly and helpful advice  http://www.exbatteryhens.com

If you are a blogger, please pop a post on your blog to help raise awareness.

Please, support LHR and help them to get these hens out.

Chickens

One Year On, Ex Battery Hens

The girls

Our original 6 ex battery hens have been free from their cage for one whole year today. Its true to say it has been an emotional journey at times, but a journey that we are glad to have taken.

Scratching around

Our first flock of  6 ex battery hens have made our first year of hen keeping very rewarding and enjoyable. Compared to other people we know, we have in fact been very lucky and had very little go wrong with the girls so far. Bumble foot has been the most annoying and stubborn ailment to clear up, resulting in Lily having to have an operation under gas to remove painful bumbles on both feet. Obviously the girls are knocking on a bit now so we shall probably be facing a few hurdles in the near future. Hopefully they will go on to enjoy their lives for another year yet, who knows.

Rose sunbathing on 20/04/09

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Free At Last Hen Rescue – 25th April

Mrs N, one of our ex batts almost a year after rescue

Would you like to re-home some ex battery hens? Free At Last hen rescue based in the Bedfordshire area, need new homes for the next rescue which is scheduled for Saturday 25th April. If you are interested in giving some ex battery hens a new life, please please visit the Free At Last website for more details and contact information.

http://free-at-last.org.uk/

Chickens

Hen Progress so Far – Latest Photos

Chrissie enjoying the sunshine

Apologies for not updating the blog recently, its been kinda busy round here lately with one thing or another. There just doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day to complete all the tasks / jobs that need doing. I will be honest, the new ex battery hens have taken up a lot of my spare time, but, I chose to dedicate this time to their care and needs. Its been hard going with them lately, a lot of worrying and finger crossing moments. They are very very worn out little girls and will take a lot more of my spare time to get them to a stage where I don’t feel the urge to keep checking on them, just in case.

 Auntie Marge

Chrissie has been doing OK recently with regards to laying. She has been putting smashed eggs into the nest box, which to most would not be OK at all, but I see it as a huge improvement to how she was. Since rescue day she had been passing 2 soft eggs at a time roughly every 3 days, which of course is not doing her the world of good and making her feel pretty awful. Aside from her egg system blips I am pleased overall with how she is progressing. She has gained a little bit of weight, not much, but enough for me to notice. Chrissie appears to be top hen, I had my money on Auntie Marge being the triumphant one. Her crop occasionally doesn’t empty properly in the morning, so I do spend a lot of time sorting that out. She is one brave little lady, even taking on Emily, the largest hen from our other flock whilst free ranging amongst the bigger girls. They had to be split up ASAP but Chrissie did not want to back down. Just goes to prove how tough ex battery hens have to be, to survive.

Chrissie

Auntie Marge, well what can I say about this very comical little hen? Apart from being extremely greedy she makes the most of her new found freedom by not wanting to miss a thing. She is very inquisitive, fast on her legs and will jump very high to grab at anything you may be holding in your hands. Even if its not food! She is still very very bald but starting to produce feathers here and there.

Brenda

Last but by no means least is Brenda. She had been doing very well but she has been a bit poorly the last few days, again egg related. I’m on to it and she seems to be OK at the moment. So there we have it, 4 weeks this Sunday out of the battery farm. We are still very sad about losing Shazzy, thank you to everyone who left us a comment about her.

I shall end this post with a photo of Auntie Marge, enjoying the sunshine warming her bones.

Auntie Marge, sleeping in the warm sunshine

Chickens

Update on the New Hens

Chrissie 25th Feb 09

The new girls appear to be settling in quite nicely. After blitzing them for lice and worms (which they had) they are looking so much brighter. They are getting stronger each day too and quite mischievous, which I like to see.

Shazzy and Auntie Marge went to the vet on Thursday evening. Shazzy is very rattly and Auntie Marge had a bit of a water bum on rescue day which concerned me. It has reduced in size considerably, but seeing as I was taking Shazzy to the vet anyway it made sense to take Auntie Marge for a quick check over. She was perfect company for Shazzy too to reduce stress. Auntie Marge is OK, the vet was happy with her and does not feel that her bottom is anything to worry about. She is laying and seems quite a perky little hen and she certainly knows how to fill her crop. To the point of bursting! Shazzy however needed a course of baytril, as expected, for a nasty respiratory infection.

Brenda, Auntie Marge and Chrissie so far have laid perfecto eggs. Shazzy is passing broken soft shell little numbers. I know when one is on the way because she looks ever so sorry for herself for a while, then, once she passes it, she is fine. She is receiving all she should to help with strong shells, so, along with her meds, her system hopefully will recover soon. All in all I am happy with their progress so far. Their diet also includes more protein for feather growth, which is working as a few of them have little spikes in a few places. Awwww.

Chickens

Hens First Day of Freedom

auntie marge

Yesterday was the new hens first full day of freedom. How did they spend it? Why, eating of course!  They certainly have an appetite and are looking a little better than they did on Sunday. We are keeping an eye on Chrissie at the moment. She bolted like a bullet from the coop this morning straight to the drinker and drank very excessively, making her crop swell like a balloon.  She seems OK at the moment, we shall see how she is tomorrow. Auntie Marge has a swollen balloon bottom, again being kept under close observation. I have a vets appointment on stand by for Thursday with an exotics specialist (chickens are classed as exotics) just in case.

brenda, shazzy & chrissie

Excuse the awful blue tarpaulin, its a temporary screen to keep next doors super models quiet. Yes, you guessed it, they are not happy. Oh no. Hand bags at the ready plus plenty of lip gloss. Witches.

shazzy & brenda

Another perfect egg in the nestbox this morning, not sure who is laying (quite frankly I am surprised that they are) but Shazzy claimed it as her own, announcing to the world that she is now a proper chicken. As you can see they are skeletal. Heartbreaking isn’t it? This is what intensive farming for cheap sh*tty eggs does to them. Disgusting!

Chickens

Preparations for the New Hens

new-chicken-enclosure

Its here! Today is the day we collect another 4 hens. They will be among 140 hens being rescued by Free At Last hen rescue.

We are expecting ‘hand bags at dawn’ type behaviour from our existing flock, so it is sensible, we feel, to house the new hens separately for the time being. The new girls will just be too weak to cope with our other 6 very fit ex batts, pecking at their heels.

Yesterday my dad and Rich built the new enclosure and coop. Only one slight blip with putting the roof sheets on the enclosure but it all came right in the end. I’m amazed that the  swear jar remains empty. The positioning of the new housing being right next door to the main enclosure, will enable all the girls to see and interact with each other safely. This should help with introductions later on. Well that’s the plan anyway.

We are setting off in a couple of hours to collect the new girls. Yay!

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Can YOU Give Ex Battery Hens a New Life?

Lily & Mrs N June 08

Have you ever considered rehoming some ex battery hens?

Battery hens that are deemed no longer productive to farmers are slaughtered. I will spare you the gory details of the undignified end to their already miserable existence.

These hens will be aged just 18 months old and would have spent most of their short ‘life’ in a CAGE. Row upon row of cages filled with 5 (sometimes more) hens jostling to stand on a wire bottom tilted cage the size of an A4 piece of paper. They have no means of expressing or carrying out natural behaviour. They NEVER see the eggs that they lay, see natural daylight or stretch their wings. Most are bald or ‘oven ready’ due to feather pulling from other hens, an act performed out of pure frustration and understandably boredom. Many hens die in their cage, sometimes unnoticed by the farmer, especially if they are in a top tier cage.

Just because the farmer does not need them any more does not mean that their egg laying days are over, they are just not producing enough eggs to make them commercially viable. Please consider re-homing a few ex battery hens and give them a home in a better environment. They are  no harder to look after than a rabbit and will reward you with fresh eggs.

Likewise, please reconsider before buying eggs from caged hens.

Free At Last hen rescue are based in Bedfordshire. Their next rescue will be 22nd February. If you would like to re-home some hens from this rescue please visit their website for more details: http://free-at-last.org.uk/

For helpful and friendly advice regarding caring for ex battery hens, please feel free to join the Ex Battery Hens Forum:  http://s1.zetaboards.com/Ex_Battery_Hens/index/

Please, give a little brown hen a chance at life. Thank you.

Chickens, Uncategorized

Little Hen Rescue – 7th & 8th February

Little Hen Rescue are appealing for homes for 4,000 battery hens being released from their cages on 7th & 8th February. They are determined not to leave any behind to the fate of the slaughter van.

If you would like to give ex battery hens a home, further information or to leave a donation please contact Jo at http://littlehenrescue.co.uk

If you would like to join in with discussions about caring for ex battery hens please feel free to join The Ex Battery Hens Forum http://s1.zetaboards.com/Ex_Battery_Hens/index/

Thankyou