An animal charity is calling on people throughout county Longford to consider offering happy homes to hens in need. On October 12 and 27, LittleHill Animal Rescue and Sanctuary will bring hundreds of rescued chickens to Maxi Zoo in Longford town, for people to adopt.
These hens have spent the first year of their lives in small cages at a commercial egg farm, after which time their productivity wanes slightly.
“This might mean that they lay five or six eggs per week, as opposed to seven,” explained Susan Anderson, founder of LittleHill Animal Rescue and Sanctuary.
At this young age, egg-laying hens are routinely slaughtered to make way for a higher-yielding flock. At this point, the Kildare-based charity rescues and rehomes as many chickens as possible, giving them the chance to experience long and happy lives outside the cage.
“We started rescuing hens several years ago, as I hated the fact that these girls are killed without ever experiencing the outside world, the grass or the sky,” said Susan.
“Most of our hens live for a few more years after we rescue them.”
As well as providing an ethical breakfast each morning, many adopters report that rescue hens become much-loved members of the family.
“We have eight hens at the moment and they each have their own personalities,” said Joan Madigan, a hen keeper based near Ballymahon in south county Longford.
“They love to have a chat and are very sociable.”
Joan also reported the fulfilment she experienced from watching her new hens transform from miserable, scrawny creatures into beautiful, healthy and confident characters.
“Our hens are unrecognisable now compared to how they were when we first got them,” she stated.
“They arrived bald and skinny, one or two of them too weak to even stand. But it didn’t take them long to come around. Some good food, TLC and sunshine, and they flourished very quickly.”
So, what does it take to adopt rescue hens?
“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 explained.
On October 12 and 27, LittleHill’s volunteers will bring hens to the carpark outside Maxi Zoo in Longford town, along with several other locations throughout Ireland, which are listed in the pinned post at the top of the charity’s Facebook page (LittleHill Animal Rescue & Sanctuary).
To book your very own feathered companions, prospective adopters must send a private message to the charity’s Facebook page, stating the number of hens they would like to adopt, the pick-up location and date.
Those without a Facebook account can book through a friend or relative’s page.