-----In 2004 we bought a falling-down house and 30 acres. This blog documents our progress-----

Saturday, September 15, 2007

rescuing 3 darling hens

September 15th was a very eventful day in the lives of 3 chickens. (Well, actually about 500 chickens in total, but we were only involved in the rescue of 3). It's the day they were rescued from a battery farm and rehomed as pets.

The Battery Farm Welfare Trust runs an adoption service, they have a deal with friendly battery farmers around the country where instead of sending them to be slaughtered after the first year of laying, the farmers allow the Trust to adopt as many as they can handle. The lucky rescuees are then adopted by people around the country as backyard pets. It's entirely run by volunteers and so far this year they've rehomed nearly 20,000 hens. A drop in the ocean but a hell of a lot better than nothing.

The way it works is that you put your name on a waiting list. Yes, we waited 3 months, there was such demand. At last the big day arrived. On Saturday 15th the rescue people collected hundreds of lucky hens in the morning from a nearby farm... gave them all health checks and claw trimmings, ready for everyone to converge in the afternoon to collect their new little ones.

When we arrived the remaining chickens were waiting in playpens on the lawn:
Adoption day

It was nearly 2 hours drive home, so we used the bunny travel boxes and borrowed a third from the vet. Lined each with paper and straw and got them tucked into the backseat. They were model passengers!

Adoption day Adoption day

To give them time to recover, we put them in the old Omlet house - within sight of C2 and Little Miss in the new cube, but separate. We let them climb out of their travel boxes in their own time, although a few nudges to get them facing the right direction were required.

pippia on her first day pippia and frenchie on arriving

To begin they just stood there, then tentatively began to walk around. We have a lot of wild birds in our garden and so they spent a lot of time looking up, enthralled.
pippia seeing the sky for the first time

They also loved the grass. It was so moving to see them attempting to scratch. They'd never done it before but clearly their instincts told them they should. Chickens have a particular way of scratching - a kind of 2 step scratch then step back to see what they've uncovered. It's very rhythmical and every chicken I'd seen did it - except these guys... they were so uncoordinated. Poor little Frenchie (so named because of her huge comb looking like a beret when she's standing upright) especially had trouble, she nearly fell over once when she tried to scratch with both legs at the same time!

frenchie on first day