A couple of weeks ago the last thing on our minds just before Christmas was taking in 3 ex-battery hens.
It was on the list as I had bought an Omlet Eglu Classic second hand but the run that came with it was incomplete and the garden still a mud bath from recent digger work and unforgiving rain – These ever popular somewhat trendy Eglu’s hold their money, new ones are expensive compared to traditional wooden coops, see new eglu’s here and that’s just for 2-3 hens.
A neighbour of ours has the Eglu Cube which can hold something like 8-10 hens but second hand will still set you back £300-400. There are accessories galore you can add including run extensions, extreme weather jackets, shades and more.
It was at the school nativity (the last school one for Indi) that we got chatting again about rescue hens with a lovely lady who works with the British Hen Welfare Trust helping them distribute the rescued chickens, and she mentioned the next batch coming from the farm in Bude, Cornwall was due around the 21st of December. With a smile we said we could probably sort our coop out by then and before I knew it I was out in the cold raking the last untouched bit of earth in the garden flat to make room for the coop and run. For the missing end piece, I spun together some wire mesh panels from B&Q which I’ve yet to shape but it did the job. Replaced the rusty bolts and washers that join the coop and run for new ones and made use of the sandstone we had found buried in the garden by laying it on the skirting of the run.
I had also got lucky and bought the Omlet Eglu floor wire mesh brand new from ebay for 99p plus postage a couple of weeks ago so the entire run is protected by wire mesh. An old car boot liner easily doubled as a cover and we were ready. Here’s a photo of the result.
We bought some layers pellets ‘complete food for any hen’ which look like tiny pencils, threw down some softwood chips so they didn’t have to walk on wire and it gives them something to scratch around with and filled the coop with straw for added warmth as we knew they might be short of a few feathers.
Perhaps a day or so after finishing the coop we received pictures of our rescued hens which were in transit to us.
It’s fair to say we were all shocked by the images.
They arrived on the evening of the 23rd of December and we were all quietly excited. We turned down the lounge lights and the lady who organised them opened the box they were in and the kids were keen to see them. Having seen the photos no one was shocked, we just wanted to start caring for them. We popped them into the coop and let them settle in for the night.
The next day we all went out to let them out.
They made their way out slowly and started pecking the wire. At first we thought this to be a habit they had acquired from being caged birds, however they were drinking drips formed from the morning dew. So Wills wiggled the water bowl and they ran over to drink. At the same time they realised where the food was and they ate and ate.
The farm starve them for two days before slaughter, so no wonder they were hungry.
If a person treated a single dog like this they could be prosecuted, yet it’s legal to totally exploit and abuse other millions of other animals like these poor chickens.
We hope they will regain their feathers and strength over the next few weeks and look forward to giving them a happier life.
In the mean time we’ll record and share the experiences of our new family members!