Rescued ex-battery chickens adopted at special hen homing day near King's Lynn
PUBLISHED: 16:17 01 October 2017 | UPDATED: 08:03 02 October 2017
Nearly 400 ex-battery hens were given a new lease of life at a special rehoming day in Norfolk.
The 65-week-old hens at the end of their commercial laying careers were saved from being turned into petfood by animal lovers.
Members of the British Hen Welfare Trust collect them from egg producers and pass them on to new owners.
Today they had a special collection day at a farm at Gayton Thorpe, near King’s Lynn.
Queues formed across the village green as the trust’s Norfolk co-ordinator Andy Beecroft and his team of volunteers got to work.
“We’ve got orders for 363 and we’ve nearly got through that,” he said, lifting a squawking almost-bald hen into a box. “We’ve had people up from Suffolk, we’ve had a very good response.”
A steady stream of families and hen lovers left with their charges in cardboard boxes and cat crates.
“The average number is probably about six, they come from all over the place,” said Mr Beecroft. “We normally do this every six weeks, 250 at a time, we’ve got eight volunteers, mostly from Gayton Thorpe, peoplem I’ve roped in.”
Potential adopters are vetted before they are allowed to reserve hens - to weed out any looking for a cheap Sunday roast. They pay a donation of around £3 - £5 per bird to cover the trust’s costs.
Many of the birds - lovingly referred to as girls by Mr Beecroft - bear signs of close confinement such as lost feathers and sore rumps. But given a little TLC, they soon regrow their plumage and become egg-laying pets which can live for five years or more.
Anne Tappin, from Feltwell, queued with husband Simon and five-year-old son Charlie for six hens.
“We got some two years ago from this very place,” she said. “Charlie likes them a lot. They have characters and end up very friendly.”
Ben Chinery came from Nordelph with wife Lucinda, eight-year-old son Lucas and three-year-old daughter Erin were also collecting hens.
“We had some a few years ago,” said Mr Chinery. “We’re quite keen animal lovers so any rescue we try to help with.
“They’re fun for the kids as well. They make better pets than you’d think.”
Anyone thinking of rehoming hens can find out more about adopting and caring for the birds online here.