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Let's help ex-battery hens

Published on September 17, 2012 by Henny Penny in British Hen Welfare Trust

The way most battery hens are treated in this country is nothing short of criminal. Most ex-batts are slaughtered, and don't see the light of day beyond 15 months. Yet chickens can live up to 12 - 15 years if kept properly, which seems to contradict the widely held view that layers are finished when they get to 2 - 3 years.

I truly believe that happy hens will produce happy eggs for many years. They just need to be kept in really good conditions, and will become part of the family. You'll get lots of delicious eggs and the girls will live for several more years. What’s not to like?

Selling your eggs is fun, but being realistic you are unlikely to become a millionaire. However, it is extremely rewarding, especially if you have kids who love animals.

You can expect to pay anything up to £6 each for them (or an equivalent donation). In some cases there may be no charge at all. Organisations such as the Battery Hen Welfare Trust and Compassion in World Farming are a really good place to start.

The initial appearance of battery hens can be quite disturbing at first. Most of their feathers are likely to be missing and red scars may be present due to continuous squabbling inside their cages. Often their top beaks will be burnt off in order to stop too much injury to their fellow cell mates.

It's important to keep them within their new hen house area for a couple of weeks at first, and if you already have some chickens, keep them apart. They are likely to be unbalanced for a few days while they get used to having some space and learning how to walk. Also, they are more prone to attacks from any existing hens, but it's just the natural forces of nature in establishing a 'pecking order').

Some ex batts will lay eggs immediately, while others may take a few weeks to regain their strength. I would always recommend clipping one of their wings too, in order to ensure they don't decide to explore where they shouldn't. This is in their own interests as you don’t want them to wander off into the hands of Mr Fox!

Lastly, at night time your older chickens will guide them back to the coop, until they know to do this themselves. It’s quite lovely really. And so to bed!

Let’s help ex-battery hens

Tags: Let's help ex-battery hens

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