Home to Roost in Dorset, happy hens enjoy a free-range retirement

PUBLISHED: 18:51 26 March 2013 | UPDATED: 21:19 05 April 2013

Home to Roost in Dorset,  happy hens enjoy a free-range retirement

Home to Roost in Dorset, happy hens enjoy a free-range retirement

The British Hen Welfare Trust are looking for a new home in Dorset writes Natalie French

Thanks to tireless work of The British Hen Welfare Trust (BHWT) and big-hearted members of the public, tens of thousands of ex-commercial laying hens, have escaped slaughter and become much-loved family pets.

According to the Trusts founder Jane Howorth, its good karma all round: Saving their lives is incredibly rewarding; not only do you get to watch the birds flourish as they become accustomed to free range retirement, but you get to enjoy a healthy hobby with the bonus of a tasty egg at its freshest!

Not only does the charity find homes for thousands of hens they also educate consumers and encourage them to support the British free range egg industry as Jane explains. Many people now select free range eggs when they go to the supermarket, and consumers are beginning to read food labels to ensure any processed food products they purchase also contain British free range eggs.

The national charitys positive impact has seen free range production grow to be one of the most successful sectors in British agriculture, with nearly half of all British laying hens having outdoor access. Whilst the ban on barren battery cages in January last year shows just how committed we have become to hen welfare.

On a local level, BHWT are now in search of a new host site in Dorset. The charity is reliant on the goodwill of volunteers for many aspects of the adoption process from collecting the hens from farms, transporting them, and providing a host site from which to re-home them, explains Jane.

The charitys Dorset Co-ordinator, Fiona Gibson, recently left the charity after selflessly giving her time for five years, and letting the charity use her pretty Dorset home as a base from which to send over 10,000 hens to enjoy a second chance in life.

We are now actively seeking a new host site from which to home more hens. Typically hen collections occur every six weeks, although this can fluctuate, and the ideal location would include a secure barn or stabling in which to hold 300+ hens whilst they are adopted, as well as car parking facilities and good road access, says Jane.

The whole process takes no more than one day, with birds being plucked from their colony cages early in the morning, rested for a few hours, and sent on their way to their free range retirement by late afternoon.

Full support is given by the charity and a team of volunteers will be on hand to help with the re-homing process. It is hard work, but immensely rewarding, says Jane.

If you think you have the perfect host site; would like to adopt a hen or just want to find out more, visit: www.bhwt.org.uk or phone Hen Central on 01884 860084.

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