200 caged hens saved from slaughter at Rowlands Castle get chance to spread their wings

MORE than 200 hens were saved from slaughter and will now be able to spread their wings after finding loving homes thanks to an animal welfare charity.

By Steve Deeks
Sunday, 10th October 2021, 9:03 am

The British Hen Welfare Trust (BHWT) held an adoption day for 204 ex-commercial chickens in Rowlands Castle on Saturday.

Dozens of people arrived before making a small donation and picking up their former battery hens as the timid chickens began their journey to freedom and come out of their shells.

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Rose MacDonald, third left, and volunteers. British Hen Welfare Trust rehomes hens, Rowlands Castle Picture: Chris Moorhouse

Southbourne couple Alex and Kay Horton, 69 and 67, were regular hen-savers and decided to adopt six hens.

‘We’re lucky we have a few acres so we can let them out to roam free and give them a new lease of life,’ Alex said.

‘They are in a sad state when you get them and we keep them separate from our others to begin with.

‘They have never seen daylight at first and they do not even know how to scratch which is a natural thing for them to do.

Volunteer Jacob Smith. British Hen Welfare Trust rehomes hens, Rowlands Castle Picture: Chris Moorhouse

‘They are very timid but come out of their shell and become part of the family. We even have a cemetery in the garden as a memorial to our former chickens.’

Jon and Vicki Eckersley, both 41, travelled from near Petersfield and adopted 10 hens. The couple said: ‘The first time we realised the condition they lived in we thought we had to have some. We could never not imagining rescuing them now.

‘The hens are lovely and friendly - much more than the rare breeds which are nervous. The eggs they lay are also very nice.’

Ian Hoskins, 53, of Hambrook, adopted eight hens. ‘It is nice to save the hens and give them a good life,’ he said.

‘They don’t have many feathers at the moment but within a month they come back and they look like normal.

‘The eggs are so much better than the ones you buy from the shops.’

The BHWT re-homes caged and free range hens and the formerly caged birds will still be sent to slaughter if they aren’t adopted by members of the public.

Rose MacDonald, volunteer coordinator of BHWT, said: ‘The day went well and we were able to rehome the hens after lots of people turned up.

‘People were taking lots of the hens - we have people coming to us who want them all the time.’

Volunteer Jacob Smith, 33, of Alton, said: ‘It’s a nice thing to give the hens a second chance of life. It’s a good thing to get involved in and help out with.’

Every year the charity saves more than 60,000 hens and has saved over 850,000 hens since it was established in 2005.

To rehome a hen or find out more information on hens, register details at bhwt.org.uk and call Hen Central on 01884 860084.

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