The British Hen Welfare Trust on the New Year resolution that’s oh-so easy to keep: giving an ex-commercial hen a happy retirement home…

New Year’s resolutions are a funny concept, aren’t they? Chances are, even if you don’t make them, you do approach a fresh year with a sense of purpose and the hope of achieving new goals. If you’re anything like us, promises to stick to a new exercise regime or lay off the chocolates fell by the wayside some time around January 2nd but fear not – we’ve got one resolution you can still make that might just change your year (and life) for the better.

Here at the British Hen WelfareTrust, we have been working hard to save commercial hens from slaughter since 2005 and, to date, we are proud to have rehomed over 900,000 chickens – each and every one of whom has been given the chance to live out her days in free range – as they so rightly deserve.

However, with an estimated 39 million commercial laying hens in the UK alone, we’ve still got a long way to go. Which is precisely where you come in! By simply resolving to rehome a hen or two from the BHWT, you will literally be saving lives – how’s that for life changing? More importantly, rehoming hens is one of the most fun and rewarding things you can do. If you’re completely new to chickens, we realise that alongisde the joy and egg-citement you may have some questions to make sure that it’s right for you.

So, we’ve answered some of our most frequently asked questions below to help you decide if rehoming is for you (trust us, it is!)

The British Hen Welfare Trust have 46 adoption sites across the UK. Head to to find your nearest site and enter your details to be notified of upcoming rehoming days.

The minimum number of hens you can reserve is three because hens are sociable and like to be part of a flock. However, we will allow you to adopt two if you already have hens. The maximum number of hens you can adopt is 20, and they must all stay together with you.

You can convert a regular shed or outbuilding, build your own coop, or buy a purpose-built hen house. Design, prices, quality and sizes vary hugely so do some research. It is far better to pay more for a sturdy, well-built house which will last for years, than buy a small, cheap, thin-walled coop which will soon fall apart and need replacing. You also need to decide on your preferred system: keeping the hens in a smaller house with attached run, frequently moving it onto a fresh area of lawn or ground or building a larger permanently sited aviary type enclosure.

This article extract was taken from the February 2024 edition of The Country Smallholder. To read the article in full, and read more about adopting ex-commercial hens , you can buy the issue here.

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