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The arrival of the new ex-battery hens!

On the 29th December 2011 we collected over 50 (most recent count is 56, they don't stay still enough to count them properly!) battery hens from the Battery Hen Welfare Trust in Devon. The weather has been atrocious since they arrived! 60mph gales, hail storms and torrential rain. Finally, today, the weather has settled and the girls are celebrating by pinging about all over the place!

My friend Elliott and I drove to Chulmleigh in Devon to collect the girls, leaving Leo behind to finish the preparations for their arrival. Elliott and I arrived at the farm and were the first in a long queue of people waiting to collect their hens. Jane Howorth, the a.m.a.z.i.n.g woman who started the Battery Hen Welfare Trust, was there to help load the hens into the car from the crates that had carried them from their battery cages. It was so busy I didn't get a chance to take any pictures! Jane will never know but I was star struck meeting her, she's one of my all time heroines and there she was filling my car up with ex-battery hens! I managed to stop myself squeezing her but wish I'd just grabbed hold of her now!

Here's a wee snippet of what it was like to release the first of the hens into their new grassy home...

I managed to hold it together as I was so busy sorting everything out. That was until I saw one hen in particular. She was so small, so bald, so thin and so miserable looking I let out a sob and that led to the flood gates opening, my heart broke and I just ached for the poor wee things and the horror they'd endured. Not only that, I ached for the billions of caged animals across the World suffering to feed our greed. Incomprehensible, horrifying. I hate the thought that each and every one of us buy products knowingly & unknowingly every week that contain products from this industry (It's not farming). Any products containing eggs/meat/stock from caged animals should be clearly marked. That includes McVities biscuits, ready meals, pasta etc, etc, etc...

Even though the EU have banned battery cages now, there are still some European countries flouting the ban. The enriched cages are better than the barren cages but are still SERIOUSLY bad for the hens and will be marked on the boxes as 'colony eggs'. So please spread the word and keep an eye out!

Please buy British processed products and British free range eggs! 

Have a read of the CIWF (Compassion in World Farming) advice on buying products with eggs in:

End Cage Cruelty campaign site:

That was one of only a few times I blubbed since their arrival. Mostly I've been filled up with the joy of seeing them explore that little bit further each day and investigate EVERYTHING!

Leo built the hens a brilliant house that was bomber during the gales and rain! 
Elliott spent ages teaching a few of the hens to drink from the drinker. Once a couple of them got it, the rest followed!  

I just spend every minute I can staring at them all. I've been freaking out I'm going to miss that one of them is poorly because there's so many of them. So far there is only four girls in the hospital wing. One seriously underweight, one with a sore leg, one with no feathers and a bruised wing and one that refused to eat and just wanted to sleep all the time. ALL are improving significantly every day and each of them have spent a night in ICU (in a basket in the yurt!).

Yet again this is one of the most rewarding things I've ever experienced. Now the weathers calmed down I'm going to get a photo of every single one of the hens and pick a few to photograph every week to document how they heal!

These two managed to catch themselves a worm! Knew exactly what to do! *gobble gobble*

I find this quite disturbing. Every night the girls decide one or two spots are THE place to be and start to pile on top of each other. I have to go in and rescue the poor hens at the bottom of the pile. When I show the hens there's loads more space, they move into it and settle down. I wonder if this is what happens in cages with no perches? That the dominant hens perch on the submissive hens? Who knows..

I've had lots of beautifully crafted jumpers sent to me by some lovely people that read the blog post below and that I talk to on Twitter & Facebook.

Such care has gone into these jumpers it filled me up! Thank you Lynni, Cerri, Kim and Leigh for all the gorgeous jumpers!

ALL of which have been used and enabled some of the girls to get out n about in this howling weather! I've only managed to get a few reasonable pics of them wearing the jumpers though, them hens don't half move!

Below is the lovely Long John. She only has one eye and when she's not nibbling my trousers she's running around like a loon bag after scoff! Some of the girls are missing toes, as well as feathers. These girls give me an overwhelming feeling of needing to know what happened to them in the cages. But I know that's not helpful and so push that aside and try to teach them about the wonders of cabbage and sweetcorn...

Here is some eggs! We got 26 eggs on the girls first day, which is now dropping off to about 10 a day. The big bluey-white egg is a duck egg and the dark brown egg is from one of our young Cuckoo Marans. All delicious!

So.. all in all a FANTASTIC and life changing experience, that everyone who can should experience! Obviously I owe it all to the first 6 ex-battery hen girls that I rescued last year. It was them that taught me how to care for an ex-batt and that ex-batts are amongst the loveliest little beings on the planet!

Loads of love from,

hen xx


  1. Oh Hen, what a wonderful blog. You've captured so well how you feel about the chooks and I'd like to give YOU a big hug for being such a caring soul. The world needs more Hens like you xxx

  2. Awww, they are just lovely and you are doing a wonderful thing being able to take on so many. They are so lucky to be able to live out their days with you.

    I picked up my 12 girls the same day as you, it's been a heck of a week weather-wise hasn't it? My whole run shifted about 6". Today was much calmer and I let them out for their first potter about the garden and luckily they all came back to me again. I keep frantically doing a henny-headcount to make sure I haven't lost anyone!

    Look forward to hearing how you are getting on. Loving the cute little hen jumpers

  3. Hen, loved reading this, lucky girls to have found you and Leo and well done for all the hard work, I am going to tell our chucks all about it tomorrow, big hugs you both deserve it. PS Lila and Jess send waggy tails

  4. Hen & Leo (and helpy people there who help, Hen & Leo), I physically felt relief while watching your video of these ex-batts meeting grass. Like breathing fresh air ouside!
    Your hearts must have been singing, as you did this :)

    Do You still need knitwear for these little ones? And if so is there a particular pattern for knitting/making warm outdoor wear for them?


  5. Hiya Hen

    I cannot imagine coping with 56 - am run off my feet looking after the existing gang of 10 plus the 7 new ex batts!

    I am watching my new girls as well - and trying not to think about the disturbing behaviour they are showing me ( yes like the piling on top of each other..and the hunched postures when flapping their wings - even though there is no longer a cage around them to stop their movements.)

    If I think about this stuff I get so angry I have to go off and cry...which doesn't help the I don't. Yet.

    You and Leo are stars and I and my feathery ladies send you huge hugs and soft pecks and clucks..

  6. Aha! I found the patterns right here, my interwebz is soooo slow tonight, panning around is taking ages. As soon as I can locate some wool, I'll click a few K1 P1s for ex-batts xx

  7. Wow x 1000!

    I'm so pleased for these poor but amazing Hens and that you could save them.

    I hope they realize they don't have to pile on top of each other soon, I'm sure they will, once they adjust to their great new lives!

    I particularly love the picture of the Hen in the stripey jumper!

  8. Fabulous blog Hen - well done to you, Leo and the rest of the rescue crew! Lucky Hens! :-) x

  9. I loved the film of the chickens treading on grass for the first time. I welled-up! xx

  10. Marvellous to see their first touch of 'Freedom' and they do show expressions of excitement and Wonder ! "Your in the right place Girls" xXx

  11. I LOVE the jumpers! Funnily enough I was discussing getting some chooks today with my husband. We just moved to a new place and i was thinking of some Marans (lovely brown eggs) but maybe now I might think about a rescue mission...if possible here in Sydney! Love your work :)

  12. I love the trail of photos showing them getting better!


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