The British Hen Welfare Trust at South Molton has saved 56,000 hens this year

Hens arriving at the British Hen Welfare Trust after being taken from the farm.Hens arriving at the British Hen Welfare Trust after being taken from the farm.

A North Devon charity is celebrating a bumper year after rehoming 56,000 hens in 2016.

The British Hen Welfare Trust, based near South Molton, has marked one of its top three rehoming years by helping tens of thousands of former caged hens become family pets across the country.

This is despite the charity having to postpone its December re-homing dates due to an avian flu lockdown.

All 56,000 hens are now enjoying life as free range birds and becoming part of the family which adopted them.

The current Avian Flu Prevention Zone covering the whole country means all captive poultry must be kept indoors or kept separate from wild birds.

It was put in place on December 6 for 30 days so is due to end on Friday, after which the BHWT will be holding a rehoming event at its base in Rose Ash.

This will take place on Sunday and will kick off the charity's rehoming events for 2017.

Charity founder Jane Howorth MBE said: "This year has been just phenomenal for the charity.

"Thanks to the hard work of our volunteers not just in Devon, but across the country, there are thousands of hens enjoying a free range life as nature intended.

"This means more and more people are now aware of what fantastic pets hens make, and that is something we plan on throwing into the spotlight even more come 2017.

"Not only that, we will be starting the building work for the UK's first hen welfare and education centre, right here in North Devon!

"We still have £75,000 to raise to cover the building costs, so if any kind-hearted members of the North Devon public are able to chip in for chickens please do get in touch."

For more information about rehoming hens, or to donate, visit www.bhwt.org.uk