Yesterday we took a trip to Coventry to pick up some battery hens, it was arranged by the British Hen Welfare Trust who I learnt about after talking to one of our vet practices at work. I’ve always wanted to re-home hens but never gotten very far with the idea, but here was my chance!
After registering online I had to wait just over two weeks for my next collection date but the day finally came! The boxes were prepped ready and all that was left was an hours journey, which actually flew by with it being a Sunday and all, in fact we made it an hour earlier than planned!
We arrived at a small farm and were greeted by a friendly lady who explained all the chickens had been dropped off just 3 hours earlier, she then went on to explain that because the farm hands can be rough sometimes any birds with broken legs or wings had been taken away, then we drove on to the collection area which was a small barn type construction with a couple of helpers behind some tables.
We took our box over and asked for 3 scrawny birds which were then packed and saved from slaughter. After that I made our donation and we were on route home with 3 extra passengers!
On the journey home I had a very weird feeling, not a bad feeling, sort of “Wow I just saved these birds from becoming dog food” feeling, its hard to explain but put it this way, I’ll think twice before buying a fresh hen again.
First things first we got the new recruits covered in mite powder, after that they had a little roam around the garden and were then shown their new coop for the night. Dinner was a mixture of chic crumb, layer pellets, grit and vitamin powder – Mmm!
We had a fox attack recently resulting in the loss of a duck, so now I will only let the birds out when I’m in the garden with them, and luckily guess who booked 2 days off work to do just that! First things first they all got a leg tag of their very own along with a cuddle and a crop massage, after that they were allowed to do whatever they wanted, which was explore, eat grass and sun bathe in the bushes for the rest of the day.
These birds are around 18 months old and have reached commercial retirement age, this basically means that because they won’t reliably lay an egg a day anymore they will be sent to slaughter, think of chicken run, only in real life. You can tell everything is new to them at the moment, any sounds get their attention and everything is carefully approached, their combs, faces, bodies and even eyes are pale because of the lack of sunlight and the thing that gets me most is they don’t know how to scrape like our other girls, plus if they see a bug they won’t even try to eat it… I’m hoping instinct will kick in once they are settled, along with feather growth!
Here are a couple of pictures of the girls on day 1 of freedom, more updates to follow! I know we all love a good bargain, but are you telling me a couple of pence more for free-range is worth this?