By Trish Healy.
We had read about the horrors of battery hen farming and wished we could give some of these poor hens a life beyond the confinement of the cage, avoid the misery of the slaughterhouse and then supermarket counters and fast food outlets.
Homes4Hens Battery Hen Rescue was found after many phone calls to rescue associations who guided us towards their Facebook site.
A trip to Dumfries was arranged. It was a glorious sunny day, gorgeous scenery, and we were filled with the excitement of meeting our new girls.
Kathryn who does the rescuing is much younger than we had anticipated. We had imagined a person in their 50’s like ourselves instead there stood a very young woman with hens, geese, ducks and cockerels, all rescued birds, running about around her feet. So much compassion!
A large shed housed the new batch of rescue hens and it was here that we met Flo. She came straight out to meet us, her face almost covered with a lifeless looking overgrown comb, her body twisted and misshapen due to the restriction of the cage. We guessed she was one of the hens at the bottom of the others and had got squashed with missing feathers showing bare patches of wings and body.
She will come home with us……another five where chosen, we wished we could have taken more but this was our first attempt at looking after hens and wanted to do this right. All Kathryn’s hens are wormed, lice/mite treated fully and vaccinated. They all come with a care sheet/newsletter and full after care for life!
A £5 donation is all she asks to cover her cost for each hen to help her rescue more. She carefully placed two hens in each of our carriers and we set off home.
Their new home had been converted from a 6ft x 6ft shed into a coup with lots of outdoor space. Their first reaction was to nervously look around and then huddle together in a corner. They didn’t yet know how to roost at night; they soon got the hang of it though.
They looked outside the coop to see daylight and sunshine with inquisitiveness, they foraged at the ground and dust bathed in the soil, stretched out their wings and ruffled their feathers (what they had at the time) Flo was the first to find a worm and ran all around the garden with it not quite knowing what do with it!
To see the girls becoming more confident, doing what is natural to them; to see their separate personalities unfold has been a joy. Nora who rules the roost is quite happy to sit on your lap or even fly onto a shoulder. We only wish we could help more of these battery hens.
I don’t believe that people choose to be cruel and if more became aware of the conditions and suffering of all that is inflicted on the hens they would choose to make different choices.
Homes4hens has so far rescued over 4,000 hens and are now rescuing hens from free range farms to save them from the slaughter that awaits them all regardless of their rearing.
They are always looking for forever homes.
When we look at our girls we do not feel like heroes, we stand humbled. We ask them, their sisters and also their brothers that never made life beyond their hatching because their sex made them unprofitable, for forgiveness.
Our girls are fully feathered now, doing what is natural for them and what as living beings they are entitled to do. They get excited to see us and enjoy our company.
They trust us. We love them. In return they give us eggs!
Homes for hens: http://www.homes4hens.co.uk/
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