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

Chickens

Little Hen Rescue – Homes for Hens

Rescue hens make great pets and are very friendly once they settle in to their new environment.
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.

ex battery hens

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.

Gardening together. Rescue hens thrive on a little TLC and fresh air
Gardening together

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

 

Other resources:

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/

 

Chickens

New Hens from Little Hen Rescue

I’d like to introduce you to a couple of sweet little hens, meet Willow and Grace. They were rescued yesterday by a hen rescue organisation called Little Hen Rescue (along with 300 others) from a farm operating the new enriched cages. A couple of the hen rescuers happen to be friends of mine and live locally to me.

I arrived at my friend’s place with my pet carrier packed with soft straw and a bowl of crumb. I was met with pale but pretty little faces and tired thin bodies, instantly my eyes were drawn to Grace. My friend scooped Willow up and handed her to me, painfully thin with a floppy comb I loved her instantly. In she went, into my pet carrier along with Grace and away we went. I’m keeping them in a very large dog crate inside my warm garage for now, just until they find their feet and put a bit of weight on their bones. The last thing they need is to be chased away from the feeders by my larger and fitter hens. They’re free to roam my large empty garage during the day, there’s plenty of natural ventilation and natural daylight. I can see them at all times to ensure they’re safe from predators and tend to their every need.

The enriched cage that my hens came from superseded the now banned barren cage, ‘enriched’ meaning to allow the hens that occupy these cages for 15 – 18 months before slaughter to carry out natural instinctive behaviour. The cages are supposed to give them a little more space, a scratch pad, nesting material and a perch. I will allow you to form your own opinion from these photos, but for me, I’d say a cage is a cage. Who’s to oversee how many hens are being kept per enriched cage? If you imagine barns of say, 20,000 hens, perhaps 2-3 per farm, you’re talking a lot of foot and paper work. I doubt it happens, in fact I’d go as far to say it probably doesn’t.

After a busy day of building a nest fit for a swan (Willow was a tad over enthusiastic) and dust baths in the ex batt crumb food, they’re settling down for the night in a thick bed of straw, safe from the slaughter man.

http://littlehenrescue.co.uk

Chickens

Free At Last Hens, Four Years On

We collected six scruffy ex battery hens (our very first hens) from a Bedfordshire based hen rescue called Free At Last, four years ago today.

I’m really chuffed to announce that two hens from the original six that we collected are still here, still laying when the occasion takes their fancy and most definitely still scratching up the flower beds and chasing flies.

Emily blowing a kiss!

To find out more about Free At Last hen rescue, visit their website: http://free-at-last.org.uk/

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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.

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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

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.

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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/

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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

Chickens · Uncategorized

Hen Rescue This Weekend – Homes Urgently Needed

A rescue is happening this weekend on the 24th January, over 2,000 battery hens will be freed from their cages, many with homes already lined up. There may possibly be a joint rescue with another hen rescue, a possible 7,000 hens could very well be free very soon!

If you have room in your life for some chickens please consider ex battery hens. They are so worth it.

If you would like to find out more please visit the following rescues:

http://www.henrehomers.net

http://littlehenrescue.co.uk/default.aspx

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