Could you give ex-battery hens a better life?

Ex-battery hens are being rescued and found happy homes thanks to a charity set up to campaign for hen welfare.

The British Hen Welfare Trust (formerly the Battery Hen Welfare Trust) was founded in 2005 by Jane Howorth, who began campaigning for hen welfare after being moved by a Panorama documentary in 1977. The charity re-homes commercial laying hens, educates the public about hen welfare and encourages support for the British egg industry.

One of those lucky hens rescued is ‘Darcy’, now enjoying a happy free range retirement at the British Hen Welfare Trust’s headquarters in Devon, where a tiny percentage of hens unsuitable for re-homing are cared for.

Darcy was so named courtesy of the ballerina-like arabesque she performs when walking – this unusual gait results, possibly, from an old break sustained whilst in her cage. Whatever the cause, Darcy has no trouble at all in making the most of her new-found freedom and has so far enjoyed the delights of laying an egg in a straw-lined nest, dust bathing and a spot of bug-chasing! All good free range fun!

The charity has re-homed around 200,000 commercial laying hens, like Darcy… but that is just the tip of the iceberg. In the UK, there are 16 million battery hens kept in cages where they cannot perform natural behaviours such as scratching, stretching their wings or nesting, and they have no access to sunlight, fresh air or grass.


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