Congratulations to our competition winner Annie Vickerstaff who will be in receipt of her fantastic Compassionate Tee of her choice in the next few days, thanks to her wonderful farm animal rescue story.
Here is Annie’s story:
After Mrs Fox helped herself to a chicken takeaway, we were left with no hens. So off to the RSPCA centre at Brent Knoll, Somerset we went, clutching an empty cat basket. We were awarded three hens fresh from an “enriched environment” farm – and if that was an enriched environment, I hardly dare imagine what must have gone before. Our three girls had completely featherless bottoms and heads, great long claws, clipped beaks and no education. When we put them into our ark they stood bemused, staring around them with unblinking eyes. They had never seen sky, grass, trees, earth, robins, worms or any of the other things now surrounding them. Over the next few days they learned to peck up insects and worms, scratch the ground, enjoy a dust bath (a dust bath – oh bliss!), use a perch, and walk around. Nest boxes were a bit of a challenge: we had several smashed eggs at first but they got the hang of it in the end. Known as the Three Baldybum Sisters, they were scantily feathered from the front, but oven-ready from the back: three parsons’ noses bobbing in a row as they pecked about. Now, after just two weeks of freedom, our hens are happily settled into their new home, providing us with lovely fresh eggs, have learned to come when called, and are even talking to us (they were silent for the first few days). New pin feathers are coming through and they’ll soon be three proper little red hens, with their first 18 months of caged life just a bad memory.
What is an ‘enriched’ environment?
An enriched environment is an environment that allows chicken to carry out their natural behaviours, as they would do in their natural environment such as perching and investigation. A more stimulating, enriched environment encourages birds to be more active, which can help reduce leg problems. Chickens provided with an enriched environment (for example, containing straw bales, perches and objects to peck at) walk and run more and sit down less than those kept without any form of enrichment.
If you want to find out more about caring for hens check out the The British Hen Welfare Trusts (BHWT) website to find out more about re-homing and caring for hens.
- Chicken Retirement (urbanchickenconsultant.wordpress.com)
- The ‘good food’ stamp barely worth the label it’s printed on (independent.co.uk)
- Give a Hen a Home (2communicateblog.wordpress.com)
- Free range eggs outsell those from caged hens for first time (dailymail.co.uk)
- 12 EU nations risk court action for cruelty to hens (mnn.com)