Charity calls on Tipp residents to save hens. Picture Niamh Cubie
"They’ll follow you around the garden and peck at the kitchen window looking for treats. They are such wonderful, friendly and funny little characters.”
Would you like to do a good deed this month? Well, here’s a great opportunity!
Throughout October, LittleHill Animal Rescue and Sanctuary plans to bring hundreds of rescued egg-laying chickens to several towns and villages in County Tipperary for adoption. The animal charity is calling on compassionate people to offer caring homes to these unfortunate creatures, who will otherwise be sent to the slaughterhouse.
But why are these birds being sent to the abattoir? At commercial farms, egg-laying hens are kept until they reach the young age of about a year and a half, after which point their productivity drops slightly. This small reduction in eggs means that the birds are no longer profitable, so they are culled at this point to make room for a younger flock.
That is, of course, unless someone rescues them from this unfortunate fate. For the past six years, LittleHill Animal Rescue and Sanctuary has been finding caring homes around the country for ex-commercial hens, so that they can rescue as many as possible. This allows the animals to experience long and happy lives, outside the confines of factory-farm cages.
“We began rescuing hens a few years ago, as I hated the fact that most commercial chickens are killed without ever knowing a moment of compassion, or even seeing the outside world,” explains Susan Anderson, founder of LittleHill Animal Rescue and Sanctuary. “They are just over a year old when we rescue them, so most will live for a few more years, often providing their new owners with five to six delicious cruelty-free eggs a week.”
However, an ethical breakfast is just one benefit of taking these birds home, as many adopters describe that they become cherished family pets.
“They’re just like little cats and dogs really,” says Susan. “They’ll follow you around the garden and peck at the kitchen window looking for treats. They are such wonderful, friendly and funny little characters.”
Adopters also report how fulfilling it is to see their new pets transform from sad, scruffy, thin creatures into beautiful, confident characters with individual personalities.
To adopt a feathery flock for your own backyard, potential adopters are asked to send a private message to the charity’s Facebook page, LittleHill Animal Rescue & Sanctuary, stating the pick-up town, date and the number of hens they would like to reserve. Those without a Facebook page can ask a friend or relative to book on their behalf.
Tipperary locations include Cahir and Clonmel on the 12th of October, Nenagh on the 13th, Roscrea on the 19th, Cashel on the 26th, Nenagh and Tipperary town on the 27th, and Cashel again on the 28th.
So, what must people do to prepare for their new arrivals? “All you need is a fox-proof chicken coop or shed that can be locked at night, and a small outdoor area that they can scratch and roam about in,” Susan said. “Loads of our rescued hens are thriving in people’s small back gardens.” To cover the expenses associated with their rescue and re-homing efforts, the charity asks for an adoption fee of six euro per hen.