I was chatting to a chicken keeper called Lizzie on Twitter a few days ago. Lizzie has just started keeping chickens and has jumped in at the deep end because her first ever flock is made up entirely of ex-battery hens. Interestingly, she’s also started to blog about it, which I think is an excellent idea because what she learns along the way and puts into print is going to be helpful to all those other people who rescue battery hens. Hopefully, it will also inspire others to give homes to rescue hens too. Lizzie’s blog is called Ruling the Roost and she gives a really interesting account of her adventures. Go check it out.
The reason I mention Lizzie is because she got me thinking about the British Hen Welfare Trust. This year the trust is celebrating its 10th anniversary and in that time it has helped rehome close to half a million hens across the UK. That is a phenomenal achievement in itself but, in addition, the trust is an active lobbyist for the welfare of poultry, working with MPs, farmers, supermarkets and food manufacturers. It’s work has led to some significant changes in the way different organisations treat their hens and raised the profile of chicken welfare across the nation.
The Trust, founded in 2005 by Jane Howorth, is supported not only by a group of high-profile patrons, such as Jamie Oliver, but by an army of volunteers and, as a charity, relies totally on public support to keep it going. There are many ways you can help, and to find out more hop over to the British Hen Welfare Trust website.
Of course, the best thing you can do is offer a home to a hen. The hens offered through the trust are those who have been kept as commercial layers but are now considered to be past their egg-laying best and, as a result, are destined for the slaughterhouse. So, if you are considering giving a home to these condemned hens, do remember that you won’t be getting a regular laying hen in tip top condition. Instead, you’ll be getting an animal with a unique set of problems, in desperate need of TLC, that needs nothing more than a good home and an understanding keeper with the patience and understanding to make a difference.