Previously Caged

the intensive production of eggs from caged hens does not sit easy with me; where do you stand?

Previously Caged

It was in my teens that I first began to question the ethics of intensive farming.  These were not my only questions, (the teen years often facilitate the first forays into extended contemplation and philosophising) but this page is about chucks so I will keep to the point... Many things have changed since those days and battery hen welfare has undergone a number of reforms.  Nevertheless, the production of eggs from caged hens still does not provide a life for those birds that sits easy with me.  I think it's important to preserve pure and heritage breeds as a general principle.  But as with most things, there is a balance to be struck.  When I started keeping chickens I found mine by keeping a comparable number of rescued hens along with my pure breed birds, and I keep up to 8 of these feathered gratefuls at any one time.

Hybrid layers are bred to be docile, so as not to object too much to their confinement or become too troublesome towards their cage companions.  Consequently, they make really superb little pets and delightful friends.  They are also spanking good layers, knocking out an egg a day all year round which keeps me trotting up and down to my roadside egg shelter in all weathers.   On the down side I have found that they tend not to be long lived, (which is probably to do with the detrimental effects of their original caged existence), but they live their lives with an enviable zest.  Each day a blessing of freedom and a gift of contented discovery, for at least a couple of years (usually).

The British Hen Welfare Trust takes caged birds at the end of their commercial lives (which is in fact not very old at all) and finds homes for them.  Adopters book birds online and collect from a nationwide network of volunteer coordinators.  When the York coordinators (from whom I had previously collected my birds)  retired, I lived in expectation of somebody coming forward to take on the role.   Nobody did.  Eventually I volunteered, along with a friend and neighbour.  And between us we are now the official York coordinators getting close to facilitating the rehoming of our first 1,000 birds.

If you are interested in the joy of adopting some hens who have seen nothing but the inside of a cage then book online with the BHWT.  Without rehomers these end-of-commercial-life birds are destined for pet food and pies which is a pitiful waste of a life that has yet to truly begin.  Their delight in discovering there is more than mere existence, will be easily matched by the profound satisfaction of your own benevolence.  

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