When the EU directive banning barren battery cages for hens comes into operation in the UK this Christmas, up to four million birds will be heading for slaughter.

The British Hen Welfare Trust (BHWT) is taking on thousands of these hens, and is putting out an urgent appeal for homes. ‘The hens come fully vaccinated and the vast majority are healthy and laying reasonably well,’ advises Jane Howorth, founder of the BHWT, which has rehomed nearly 300,000 commercial laying hens. ‘They do sometimes look a bit threadbare, but will start to re-feather within weeks.

They’re bred for docility, and you’ll find that they’re gentle, endearing, inquisitive and friendly. Giving a happy home to former battery hens can be particularly rewarding, from the pleasure of seeing them experience their first taste of sunshine and grass to the joy of collecting their eggs.’

The BHWT, which supports the UK egg industry, is holding a series of hen-rehoming workshops. For details, telephone 01769 580310, or visit www.bhwt.org.uk.

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