Adopting hens

Posted: Wednesday 30 May 2012
by Pippa Greenwood

Last week, we received an email offering us some birds, and on Saturday my son and I went off to collect eight hens [...]

Chicken on a lawn

I’m proud and excited to announce that there’s been a new addition to the family … well, eight additions, actually. A while back I met the people from the British Hen Welfare Trust, and put my name down to adopt a few chickens.

Last week, we received an email offering us some birds, so on Saturday my son and I went off to collect eight hens, allocated by the Trust. It was a bit of an emotional day, as we had never taken on ex-commercially farmed hens before, and I didn’t know what to expect.

Ours were kept as free-range hens, so they were in better condition than the poor souls that have spent their shortened lives in so-called ‘enriched’ cages (the type of cage now used in place of a battery cage). They’re now settling in to their new home, scratching about with plenty of space, and eyeing up the vegetable plot next door.

The new chickens have been eating every bit of suitable vegetation we’ve been able to provide, including overwintered brassicas and lettuces. What’s more I now have an excuse to allow the grass to grow long, and to let some docks flourish, as they especially love the soft, almost juicy new growth.

Meanwhile, my daughter is constantly baking cakes with the eggs, and I’m hoping that with an expanded flock of 12 hens, I will at last be able to have a go at creating slug barriers using crushed egg shells. I’m also looking forward to adding some seriously potent nitrogenous hen poop to my compost.

Most of all, we’re just so pleased that we did our bit to help the British Hen Welfare Trust, who save about 60,000 hens a year from an untimely death. Amazing people they are and thanks to them for an octet of happy birds.

If you’ve ever considered keeping chickens, why not contact the Trust for more details. I wish we’d done it before; the only problem is, I keep having to pop out, to see how they’re getting on, and sow more crops just for them to enjoy!

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Talkback: Adopting hens
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Brownbunny 31/05/2012 at 20:30

My daughter adopted some hens too. They had a great life with the other hens and laid eggs too. Probably grateful.
A really satisfying thing to do. Poor chucks need all the help they can get, after the life they had.

FloBear 31/05/2012 at 22:11

I've had my ex-batts since last August. It didn't take long for them to learn to be proper chickens. They're funny and curious and seem to love life - especially when free-ranging in the garden (which is wrecked!). Bless them, they give me an average of three eggs a day between the four of them. Definitely very satisfying.

Flowerpot Liz 31/05/2012 at 23:25

My chickens live by the three rules of E - if it's green, we can eat it; if we can't eat it we can excavate it; and if she's stupid enough to put it in a pot we can empty it! Depending on the weather I now have a dust bowl or mud bath - but 5 happy chickens, 3 of which are ex-batts. It was lovely seeing them discover the world and learning about sun, rain and the joys of dust bathing. And eating anything green...

FloBear 01/06/2012 at 20:31

Flowerpot Liz, I love your three rules of E, I'd like to adopt them if it's all right with you. I have to say that the girls have saved me bothering with the lawnmower this year - not that I ever had a 'lawn' but there were two green areas that had grass and assorted greenery. Not any longer, though!

Camelia2 02/06/2012 at 19:03

That is wonderful! I'm thinking to do the same. Congratulations.

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