Regular readers (both of you) will no doubt recall the day almost two years ago when Mrs Crox and I rescued four battery hens and gave them new homes. But seriously, this is a somewhat Guardian Weekend form of animal liberation, packed to the brim with derring-don’t. No need for balaclavas, ski masks, night-vision goggles or wire cutters. All we did was get in touch with Little Hen Rescue, a charity that re-homes battery hens that farmers no longer want, and turn up at their base just south of Norwich with an elderly Volvo and a couple of pet carriers.
Note for Molecular Biologists – these are not chickens. They are something else.
Two years on, two of our four liberated ladies have died of old age (battery chickens don’t last long); the other two are enjoying their retirement; so we felt like rescuing some more. The sun was shining, Little Hen Rescue had some hens to re-home, so we’ve now acquired four more. For a donation of £2.50 per bird, you get fun and feisty pets that squirt out eggs like machine gun bullets. They do arrive slightly dishevelled, sometimes, but any feathers lost in battery installations grow back into gorgeous russet plumage as the battery hens slowly convert themselves to solar energy.
As I have probably written many times, the easiest farm product in which to be self-sufficient is eggs. None of that tedious digging of vegetable plots here. Nothing much can go wrong with a chicken, so there won’t be many expensive visits to the vet. All chooks need is a few square feet of secure predator-free enclosure, some corn supplemented with kitchen scraps, a bit o’ grit, and off you go.
So, if you’re thinking of getting into home poultry keeping, consider rescuing some
industrial egg-production units battery hens. Give an intensively-farmed animal the life it deserves, not the life that commercial pressures dictate.