A home for hens
This time last year we rehomed over 80 ex-battery hens on their way to slaughter after being considered “no longer commercially viable” by intensive egg laying units. Hens continue to be kept in cages, on colony farms where they live in cramped conditions and are deemed “spent” at the age of 18 months approximately, when their egg laying yield naturally drops.
If you buy eggs from hens that are caged or live in barns – then very likely this is what the hen looks like at the end of its “commercial life”.
British Hen Welfare Trust
Thanks to British Hen Welfare Trust (www.bhwt.org.uk) who fundraise & organise the collection and rehoming of battery & colony hens from the commercial, intensive units thousands & thousands of hens like these get a new life around the U.K.
All of our hens are ex-battery & from volunteers; @undermywinghens who coordinate the Nantwich rehoming.
On arrival, the hens have lost or plucked out a lot of their feathers from stress & boredom and they have had their beaks cut as chicks by the farms to enable mass numbers to be kept together. Their nails are super long because they haven’t stepped foot outside.
They don’t all make it – we have lost a few – in photos the hen with purple spray on (antibiotic spray), she didn’t make it more than a day before she passed away. For some, it’s just too late.
After rehoming, it took us 3 months of TLC, lots of high quality food & space to roam to get the hens back into condition and lay again. They don’t all lay – and the ones that do it’s every other day at best.
I can’t tell you how incredibly heart warming it is to see their little eyes looking up at the sky the first time you let them experience going outside. Commercial hens are subject to artificial lighting to keep them laying in winter and so they’ve never seen the sun, or rain. When it rains at first they don’t know what to do. They just freeze. We have literally picked up and carried them all back inside because they didn’t know what to do. They don’t know how to roost & at night they all hobble on top of each other and we have to keep going out and spacing them out so they don’t crush each other at first. We may have even put one or two in a woolly jumper whilst their feathers re-grew .
Ar first we sold the surplus eggs in an honesty box (until theft ruined it) & now via an egg club which funds their food & upkeep.
No longer viable?
This summer we used the crowdfunded money & money generated from egg sales to go towards the purchase of a poultry house in a woodland to give them the life we feel they should have. We feel it’s not just for welfare & ethical reasons that hens should have access to greenery. Hens originate from forests – this is their natural environment. There’s also evidence to suggest that eggs from hens who have access to greenery are lower in cholesterol and higher in vitamins such as D. Eggs are a great foodsource. The yolk contains naturally occurring vitamin D & the white protein.
No loner a battery hen & now an ex-battery hen – these girls kept a village in eggs over lockdown – I’m sure they knew how much eggs were in demand because the amount of eggs we were getting over summer was incredible! For us, lockdown was very egg -based with knocks on the door morning, noon & night! There was also the challenge of sourcing containers as the boxes became out of stock everywhere!
Commercially no longer viable?!!!!
There’s nothing “unviable” about our ladies. They have earnt their retirement here at Bernard’s Farm for sure & we love having them here with us. They will stay here until the end of their days. We love our hens to bits.