An urgent appeal has gone out to try and find 231 ex-battery hens a home before the weekend or they will be heading for the slaughterhouse.

Carrie the hen, adopted from the British Hen Welfare Trust South Zeal site by Heather Johns. Picture: Heather JohnsCarrie the hen, adopted from the British Hen Welfare Trust South Zeal site by Heather Johns. Picture: Heather Johns

South Molton based charity the British Hen Welfare Trust has 231 hens still needing homes at its rehoming points in Rose Ash and South Zeal and would like to hear from anyone who can help.

The charity's rehoming dates are all based around farm slaughter dates and any hens it can't find homes for by the weekend will end up being slaughtered.

The BHWT rehomes ex-commercial laying hens that have reached 18 months old, at which point they are deemed no longer commercially viable and most are sent to slaughter.

The hens have been kept in cages laying eggs to be sold in the supermarket, or to go into processed foods.

But it says they can make wonderful, friendly pets and will live for many years after being rehomed, with a good chance of providing eggs in return.

Francesca Mapp, marketing manager at the BHWT, said: "Keeping ex-bats is such a rewarding hobby - there's nothing better than seeing a hen enjoy her first dust bath, or watch her spreading her wings to soak up the sun for the first time.

"These little hens have worked so hard to give us a daily egg, so it's wonderful to be able to give them the free-range retirement they deserve."

To rehome some please register via the charity's website at https://support.bhwt.org.uk/RegisterAHen.aspx and then call Hen Central on 01884 860084 to book.