Should I adopt ex-caged hens?

Wood green has been supporting the rescue of ex-commercial hens alongside the British Hen Welfare for around 10 years.

During this time, we have been able to collect thousands of hens direct from the farms and play host to BHW for monthly large rehoming days on our Godmanchester site.

On average, the group of British Hen Welfare and Woodgreen volunteers can return with 200-400 hens each time with others going off to other collection points around the region. Most will be rehomed on that day to homes already approved through BHW or ourselves.

Taking on ex-caged hens can be extremely rewarding, and they are well known for being the most confident of breeds. They are often keen to come and sit with the family in the home, or follow you around the garden. Because of this, it makes them ideal beginner hens, and they are also great for families with young children.

The hens initial condition really varies depending on the farm they have come from. All the hens we rescue are classed as ‘caged hens’ – this means they have never seen the sky, placed their feet on fresh grass, or had the opportunity to run, jump, explore, perch or sunbathe. These hens are used for producing large quantities of eggs and normally sent to slaughter at 18 months of age as this is when it is felt that the egg production levels drop. However, these beautiful and full of character hens can go on to lay for several more years, and certainly have lots of energy left to keep you busy whilst they explore their new world.

What to expect with ex-caged hens

Most hens will be missing some feathers – some more than others, and most will be slightly underweight.

When you get your ex-caged hens home, always allow them a few weeks to really settle into their surroundings. They will not be used to using enrichment or putting themselves to bed each night. Feeders may seem like completely baffling contraptions to them, and large open spaces will initially be quite daunting, so ensure you have the time to help them settle and learn how to really be chickens.

If you are interested in rehoming some ex-caged hens we often have plenty already available and waiting for new homes. Alternatively, you can contact The British Hen Welfare Trust to see when the next rescue date is planned in your area.

5 reasons why you should adopt some ex-caged hens:

  1. You will be offering these hens a second chance. The more people who adopt, the more we can save.

  1. It’s an amazing opportunity for your family to really learn all about chickens, discover how wonderful they are, and gain a higher understanding of chicken welfare and the impact the food industry has on them.

  1. It’s so rewarding to watch them develop into these healthy, confident chickens after receiving some much-deserved TLC.

  1. They are so much fun! They love to learn, explore and get up to mischief.

  1. They become part of the family. Lots of ex-caged hens really enjoy a cuddle, feeding from your hand or just following you round everywhere you go. Many are even partial to a snooze on the sofa if you let them.

Looking for more advice?

Whether you are already a chicken owner or are thinking of giving some a home, we’re here to help with any advice you need. Please don’t hesitate to contact us.

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