Once a year, we take on a number of ex-battery hens/ ex- intensively farmed hens. We do this to give them a second chance after a Farmer has replenished his stock of laying hens, which usually happens when they are about one year old. We have to pay for the hens that we save.
We make a charge for the hens that we rehome, this covers our costs for purchasing the hens from the Farmer, medicating and feeding each bird before rehoming.
When the hens arrive with us, we keep them here for the first 2-weeks until they are fit enough to leave for their new homes.
Below are some pictures of this years hens which arrived with us on 18 June 2010. The pictures were taken the first few days of them arriving.
When the hens come to us (see picture on right, above and below) they are usually in quite a bad way, they have very little feathering (if any) and are sometimes very bruised. They are often very quiet and subdued.
After giving them any urgent treatment that they may need, we trim their nails, dust them with an insect repellent and worm them.
We feed them layers mash at first before gradually introducing them to other forms of food such as pellets and mixed corn, as this is what they will have been used to eating and we ensure that they have plenty of fresh water to drink.
We also increase their intake of nutrients and vitamins with a Poultry Tonic, which helps with their feather regrowth and gives them a much needed energy boost.
The feathers look like little black pins when they first start to regrow as can be seen by the picture. Gradually, more and more of these break through the skin and continue to grow longer. As the pins get longer, the ends open up and the quills of feathers poke through.
The hens will not usually know how to perch when they are put inside the coup, as this will be new to them and they will cluster in groups on the floor of the coup. Many of them will also not have been outside before and will be frightened to come out of the coup into the daylight. We often have to force them go outside for the first time. For some of them, the stress of coming out of the intensive farm and being introduced to what would be natural for any other hen is too much and they will not make it past the first few weeks of being rescued.
It may take a long time for them to restart their egg laying and sometimes the shells will be very thin to start with, until they regain their health.
We will provide a guide on "How To Care For An Ex-Battery Hen" with every hen that we rehome.
When we rehome a hen, we will give as much ongoing help and support as is needed. We ask that new owners abide by the following :-
* To provide the hens with the utmost respect and care that they deserve
* To provide a home for the rest of the hens natural life.
* To give them suitable, regularly cleaned housing which is protected from bad weather, predators like foxes, rats, stoats
* Give them access to the outside
* Veterinery care if needed
* Regular worming
* Fresh drinking water daily
* Daily feed
Rehoming an ex-battery hen really is a worthwhile and personally rewarding experience.
Please note that we will only let a very small number of hens go to any one home and they must be rehomed as pets and not for commercial egg laying.
With alot of patience, care and love a rehomed hen could look like the one below in as little as 3-months!