Boiled eggs and soldiers are always a winner at breakfast, but there is a way to take your eggs to the next level – by collecting them direct from your very own hens.
Whether you’re already an experienced hen keeper, or are keen to adopt some hens for the first time and use up that unused scrap of land in your garden – a scheme run by the British Hen Welfare Trust (BHTW) might just be the answer.
Why would chickens need rehoming?
At 17 months old, many commercial and caged laying hens are no longer seen as a profitible for farmers, as they’re not in peak egg producing condition. Usually, hens of this age are sent to slaughter, but around the country the BHTW steps in, offering the chance for people to rehome a hen or two and save them from the slaughterhouse. You get a new feathery friend, a fresh supply of eggs, and they get to enjoy a free range life.
What’s involved and how do you go about adopting one?
You, your garden, and a few chickens wandering around. The idea is, you register with BHTW online, make a space for a coop in your garden, arrange your pick up date from your nearest BHTW centre, and you could have a feathery friend settling in within a matter of days.
The Trust asks for a small donation (around £5 per hen) to cover vet and other costs, and other than that, it’s free. If you’re new to owning hens, the BHTW requires that you adopt three hens together (so they’re not lonely).
What do you need to properly take care of a chicken?
1. A secure and well-built coop - Convert an unused shed or wendy house into a home for your new neighbours, or buy a ready-built coop. It’s needs to be as secure as possible to keep out hungry foxes.
2. A quality feed - Your hens deserve to live in style, and the BHWT has a few recommendations for feed, including Smallholder Range‘s Natural Free Range Layers Crumble or Pellets – and they’ll also eat leftover veggies.
3. A little patience - Like us, hens have a pecking order. If you already have hens, keep the new ones separate for a couple of weeks – a new environment takes some getting used to.
Why should you do it?
The BHWT saves around 50,000 from the slaughterhouse each year, but there are always more hens looking for new homes.
And who can say no to fresh eggs, little burnished orange creatures running prettily around the lawn, and the feel-good factor of saving a life headed to the abattoir?