Charity calls on Donegal residents to save hens. Picture Niamh Cubie
An Donegal based animal charity is urging kind-hearted people throughout the region to offer happy homes to hens that will otherwise be sent to the abattoir. On October 13, LittleHill Animal Rescue and Sanctuary will bring hundreds of rescued egg-laying chickens to a number of towns around Donegal including Bundoran..
At a number of commercial farms, egg-laying chickens are kept until they reach about a year and a half old, at which point their productivity diminishes slightly. This small reduction in yield renders the birds unprofitable, and they are routinely slaughtered to make way for a younger flock.
To save as many of these hens as possible, LittleHill Animal Rescue and Sanctuary finds caring homes around the country, where these animals can experience long and happy lives, outside the confines of factory farm cages.
"We started rescuing chickens because I hated the fact that most are killed without ever knowing a moment of kindness, or even seeing the outside world," founder of the charity Susan Anderson explained.
"They are just over a year old, so the majority will live for a few more years, often providing their new owners with five to six delicious cruelty-free eggs per week,” she said.
However, an ethical source of fresh eggs is just one of many advantages to sharing your life with these creatures. In fact, many adopters report that they become beloved members of the family.
"I never expected to fall in love with my girls. When they came first, they were all I could think about, I even dreamed about them. I loved getting up in the morning to let them out. They are always full of chat and very calming to watch," a hen keeper based near Rathmullan, Elaine Byrne said.
To adopt a feathery flock for your own backyard, potential adopters must 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.
Pick-up locations include Bundoran on October 27.
To prepare for the hens you will need a predator-proof chicken coop or shed that can be locked at night, and an outdoor area for them to roam about in. Susan said that the patch need not be too large:"Many of our rescued hens are thriving in people's small back gardens."