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Appeal to save 10,000 battery hens

PUBLISHED: 16:23 06 May 2009 | UPDATED: 11:04 12 July 2010

Adam Gretton

A centre for retired battery hens in Norfolk made an appeal for help today after being presented with the mammoth task of rehoming more than 10,000 birds in just six weeks.

A centre for retired battery hens in Norfolk made an appeal for help today after being presented with the mammoth task of rehoming more than 10,000 birds in just six weeks.

Little Hen Rescue at Flordon, near Norwich, was set up by Jo Eglen last year to save more intensively-reared chickens from an early death.

The not-for-profit organisation is now calling for more rehomers to come forward after being given the opportunity to save thousands of birds from a battery farm by the end of June.

The unnamed farm on the Norfolk-Suffolk border is set to end its egg production and has already called in the slaughtermen to round up the remaining hens on June 29.

Mrs Eglen, 29, is appealing for the public's help to prolong the battery hens' lives and stop them becoming meat for chicken pies and dog food.

The mother-of-two, who set up the rescue centre in August after helping another hen rehoming organisation, said most battery hens were culled after a year of life, but could live for eight years and still produce around 350 eggs a year per hen, if allowed to enjoy a free range existence.

The part-time teaching assistant from Newton Flotman has saved more than 9,500 birds since the centre was formed, but the new rescue was proving to be a big challenge.

“It is a big task. We rehomed 4,000 hens from one farm in February, which was big for us, but we are going to work extra hard to try to get the job done. We have space for 300 at the centre, but not enough room for 10,000!”

“Everything is so expensive these days, especially eggs, and rescued battery hens are great pets, relatively inexpensive to keep, eat scraps and produce good fresh eggs,” she said.

Mrs Eglen said that the organisation, which has 20 volunteers, was rescuing more battery hens because more people were reverting to free range eggs and small-scale farmers were turning away from intensive production because of new regulations.

Little Hen Rescue makes arrangements with farmers to recover battery hens, finds suitable homes for them in the region and catches them, crates them, and transports them to their south Norfolk centre. The organisation charges £1.50 per rehomed bird to cover its costs.

For more information, visit www.littlehenrescue.co.uk.

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