ARE you hoping to carry out a good deed in the coming weeks? Well, here’s your chance!
Throughout the month of October, LittleHill Animal Rescue and Sanctuary will be travelling to numerous towns in county Cork with hundreds of rescued hens for adoption. The charity is appealing to kind-hearted people across the county to consider offering a home to these unfortunate creatures, who will otherwise be sent to the abattoir.
The hens are currently residing in small cages at a commercial egg farm. At such farms, egg-laying hens are kept until they reach just over a year old, at which point their productivity declines slightly. This small reduction means that a chicken might lay six eggs each week, rather than seven, rendering them unprofitable.
At this young age, commercial hens are routinely culled, to be replaced by more productive flock. That is, of course, unless someone steps in to save them.
For the past six years, LittleHill Animal Rescue and Sanctuary has been finding caring homes around the country, so that they can save as many hens as possible from the chop.
Susan Anderson, founder of LittleHill Animal Rescue and Sanctuary explained: “We started rescuing hens several years ago, as I hated the fact that these girls are killed without ever knowing a moment of compassion, or experiencing the outside world.
. “They are just over a year old when we rescue them, so most will live for a few more years, providing their new owners with delicious cruelty-free eggs.”
But an ethical source of eggs is just one advantage of sharing your life with these creatures, as many adopters confess that they become beloved family members.
“They bring something new to our family life every day. The kids love collecting the eggs and watching and laughing at their daily antics,” said Sarah Loughnane, who lives near Midleton. “They are very calming to watch actually; I have lost hours just watching them go about their daily business.
“I had no idea what great characters they’d be and how much I’d love them,” added Liz Curry in West Cork.
“I regularly post photos and stories about them that make people smile, and I give their happy eggs to friends and family. I’d highly recommend it!”
Many adopters also report the fulfilment they experience while watching their hens transform from pale, frightened and scruffy creatures into beautiful, confident birds with individual personalities.
“When my rescue hens first arrived, they had very few feathers, no colour in their faces, and they also squawked and panicked quite a lot,” said Melanie Corr, who lives near Blackrock.
“But within a few weeks, they calmed down completely, their faces turned red from living outdoors and their feathers began to regrow. One of my hens, Lucy, who arrived weak, terrified, and without any feathers, now saunters about as if she owns the place!
“It’s a great feeling to see them enjoying life and knowing that you saved them from certain death,” added Jennifer Colthurst, based near Dunmanway.
To adopt a feathery flock for your own backyard, these hen keepers recommend consulting the pinned post at the top of the charity’s Facebook page, LittleHill Animal Rescue & Sanctuary, where all the drop-off locations and dates for the upcoming rehoming events are listed.
Cork locations include Mallow and Mitchelstown on October 12, Ballincollig and Bantry on October 13, Fermoy, Midleton and Cork City on October 26, and Charleville and Kanturk on October 27.
Potential adopters must send a private message to the charity’s Facebook page, stating the pick-up town, date and the number of hens they would like to reserve. Those without a Facebook account can book through a friend or relative.
So, what must people do to prepare for their new arrivals?
“You need a predator-proof chicken coop or shed that can be locked at night, and an outdoor area for them to roam about in,” Susan said, adding that this patch does not need to be very large.
“Many of our rescued hens are thriving in people’s small back gardens in Cork city!”