A North Devon-based hen charity is set to reach another milestone this September.
The British Hen Welfare Trust’s (BHWT) Devon team will host its 500th rehoming day at its base in Rose Ash near South Molton on September 12 – 15 years after the charity was formed.
It will see 720 hens winging their way from commercial farm cages to the charity’s centre before moving on to their forever homes on the same day.
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.
BHWT founder, Jane Howorth MBE, said: “I’m so proud of our collective achievements and could not wish for a more dedicated Devon team, who don’t mind working long hours, heaving heavy crates and getting dirty, all with the single aim of helping hens on their retirement journey to becoming much-loved family pets.”
“A rehoming day for the hens themselves is a bewildering experience, being removed from their cages, packed into crates and transported, with a further journey later the same day, but it’s all over in one day and the best part for me is knowing they’re going to caring homes.”
Jane founded the charity for chickens in 2005, with her ambition to save around 4,000 hens from slaughter.
Since then, the charity has helped save the lives of more than 780,000 hens nationwide, thanks to 44 volunteer-led teams.
The charity has also been able to set up a second Devon rehoming point in South Zeal near Okehampton, which has helped take the total number of hens rehomed in Devon up to 107,000.
The South Zeal team, led by head of operations Gaynor Davies, has saved more than 18,000 hens from slaughter and is a key pick-up point in Devon.
Gaynor said: “If you’ve not kept hens as pets before, now’s the time to try it – they are precocious and endearing in the same breath; they fit into family life perfectly and are usually more than happy to provide an egg for your breakfast. They’re the pets with the USP that keep on giving!”
To find out more, visit the British Hen Welfare Trust website.