This year, British Hen Welfare Trust celebrates their tenth year. The charity has been finding homes for retired commercial laying hens since 2005, saving them from slaughter and rehoming them to loving families. The charity was involved in the Animal Friends Facebook competition last year, so we caught up with them to find out where the money went, and what they have up their sleeves for 2015.
What did British Hen Welfare get up to in 2014?
Our biggest achievement last year was re-homing 46,451 lovely hens; all those lucky ladies would otherwise have been sent to slaughter. Thanks to our supporters and our wonderful team they have ended up in happy free range retirement homes instead.
We are always trying to spread the word about hen welfare to a wider audience and last year saw us out and about at events and even more active on Facebook and Twitter, helped by Animal Friends.
We often have keen ladies calling to find out more about adopting our lovely girls, and there is sometimes a hesitancy in their voice because ‘my husband isn’t keen on the idea’ or ‘my husband thinks it will cause more work’ – you get the gist. Our stock advice is to leave it all up to the girls, and within no time the husband issue will resolve. Then we sit back and wait. Here’s the latest comment from a happy wife:
“I just simply wanted to thank you for my 10 lovely ladies. One complaint though, I have now lost the affections of my husband who spends all of his time flirting with the ladies outside, and who gets up at 5.15 EVERY morning to release them from their nightly roost. He puts them in for the night too as he wants to be the last person they see when they go to beddie-byes and the first one they see in the morning!”
Another wife rang to say her son had adopted hens as an anniversary gift for her husband and herself, but she really didn’t think they could keep them as her husband was a bit miffed at the idea. The advice we gave was to sit tight, especially as she quite liked the notion of hen keeping, and sure enough a call came through several months later when she was delighted to relate that her husband now did the daily run in his dressing gown to let his girls out in the morning and that he was absolutely besotted with them! She was, needless to say, also thrilled! And the moral of this tale is: your hens have the manipulative ability of a small child, so don’t let a reluctant husband stop you adopting hens!
What are your plans for 2015?
As 2015 is our 10th Birthday year, we have a packed calendar. Last year we attended just a few events and the response was overwhelmingly positive. This year we are planning to attend many more and bigger events such as the Bath and West Show, The Royal Cornwall Show, and the Kent County Show. Our largest stand will be at the Edible Garden Show at Alexander Palace on March 20-22nd. We have been invited to attend with Poultry Talk to man the dedicated area of ‘The Chicken Coop’. Here there will be talks, hens to meet, competitions and quizzes, as well as a British Hen Welfare Shop. We continue to spread our message of hen welfare to a wider audience by attending food events and have been invited to attend The Exeter Festival of Food and Drink and Powderham Castle Food Festival.
How have Animal Friends’ donations been used, and how have we helped?
We were thrilled to be included in the Animals Friends competitions – it is great to know that we have your support. The prize money we received has been used in our core hen re-homing work. Our costs are low because our re-homing initiative is run mainly through our fantastic volunteers across the country but we have to equip the volunteer teams with ‘kit’ – hen crates, hen first aid kits, food and bedding – and we pay their fuel costs. Every £1 we received from Animal Friends has helped us meet these costs and therefore help more hens.
How can the public get involved with your charity?
We are most well-known for our re-homing initiative and have found homes for over 450,000 commercial laying hens destined for slaughter since being established in 2005. There are many other ways that the public can become involved such as;
– Sponsor a Hen – a great way of caring for a hen even if you don’t have room in your back garden!
– Free Range Friday – on the first Friday of every month we encourage people to think about where the eggs in their food come from, and to get together to enjoy free range eggs by making and then selling cakes and other items.
– Egg Club – An increasing number of our supporters are raising funds by donating the proceeds from egg sales and they have been an inspiration to us.
– Chicken Runs – more and more of our supporters now run and donate money. So much so that we now have a dedicated e-newsletter – Runny Egg Review!