Evie’s Pretty Little Hens – Rehoming Ex-Battery Chickens
Evie Walker is 11 years old, and has been passionate about hens for half her life. Apart from the birds in her garden, she is also helping thousands of other hens by raising money for the British Hen Welfare Trust. Evie recently brought home six new rescue hens, and has written a diary of the first few weeks with her new friends. Scroll to the end for an interview with Evie about her passion for poultry!
Picking up my new friends
When I heard that there were going to be some chickens who needed a home in our area, we registered on the BHWT website and reserved four hens. When the date of the collection got closer, me and my dad built our new Eglu Cube chicken coop and run and then we put up our Omlet chicken fencing around this so they would have more space outside to explore. We went shopping to buy other things for their arrival; bedding, food, vitamin drops to help them get better, and lots of treats! We also bought them a chicken swing! I also had to start thinking of names for my new pets.
On the morning of the rehoming, we found a big box to bring the hens home in. I made sure I put in lots of straw so that they would be comfy during their journey home. We followed the directions given to us by the BHWT and it was easy to find the rehoming site. When we arrived we were met by some lovely volunteers who asked us if we could possibly squeeze an extra hen or two into our home as they had some “lucky extras” that had come out of the cages.
I was so pleased and happy when my mum said we would take an extra two, meaning we were bring home six lucky hens instead of four! I gave the volunteers some chocolates and a card thanking them for all their hard work, because without their help we wouldn’t be able to adopt the hens.
During the drive home me and my brother made sure we were really quiet so we didn’t scare our new pets. When we got home my mum carefully took them out of the box and put on coloured leg rings so we could easily tell them apart. They were very quiet and stayed in the run attached to the house and didn’t move much. After a little while they started eating – a lot! When it got dark they didn’t know how to climb the little ladder and go to bed in their house so my mum carefully lifted them up into their lovely new home.
The first weeks
The next morning they needed to be lifted back out of the house as they were unsure of what to do. They stayed in the run attached to their house for the first couple of days but on day three they felt confident enough to go into the larger enclosure; they quickly learned to scratch the ground and loved to lie down and sunbathe when the sun came out. To begin with they were also very scared of us and wouldn’t want to eat from our hands. After sitting quietly with them each day and offering them lots of treats they soon learnt to trust us and now a couple of them even jump on our laps for hugs!
It has now been a month since we rescued our hens and there is a massive difference between the way they were when we collected them and how they are now. They have grown lots of feathers and look much healthier. When they arrived their combs were and pale and hung to one side but already they are brighter and more upright. They are confident to climb up and down their ladder and they lay their eggs in the cosy nest box instead of randomly around their run.
We get an average of four eggs a day from our six hens and the shells are much harder and darker in colour now. To begin with the shells were pale and very thin so we gave the hens crushed oyster shell everyday to help with improving their shells. They love to dust bath to take care of themselves and keep clean.
I think they are now loving their new life and doing all the things they are supposed to do!
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I am 11 years old and have just started secondary school. I have six hens called Skittles, Bellachix Lestrange (I am a massive Harry Potter fan!) Bubbles, Squeak, Hyacinth Clucket and Peggy Mitchell (my mum and dad named the last two!)
I have a 5 year old cockapoo called Daisy who I enjoy walking especially when we go to the beach. In my spare time, I enjoy sewing, knitting, drawing, making things and painting. My favourite thing to do is baking cakes and treats – using eggs from my hens!
When did you start getting interested in chickens?
When I was six, my mum told me about a charity called the British Hen Welfare Trust and how they rescue battery hens when they are no longer needed by the farmer. I thought that I could help to give them a lovely life by caring for them and giving them lots of attention.
Tell us a bit about how you’re raising money for the BHWT.
A few years ago when I first started rehoming hens I decided I wanted to raise money for the charity by selling the eggs laid by my hens and giving all the money to the charity to help other hens still in their cages. Because I enjoy arts and crafts I decided to try and raise a bit more money by painting and decorating wooden hen decorations which I sell on a Facebook page set up by my Mum called ‘Evie’s Pretty Little Hens’. I have also done a few cake sales at school and at my house to help raise more money. So far I have raised over £2000 for the charity!
What are your best tips for people who want to get involved?
The first thing to do would be to visit the BHWT website to see when the re-homings are in your area. You need to make sure you have a safe and secure house for your hens and a nice outdoor space for them to play and explore. My tip would be to read through all the information on the BHWT website so you can be prepared with everything your new hens will need when they arrive.
What is the biggest difference between your old coop and your new Eglu?
Our old hen house, Cluckingham Palace, was built by my Dad out of wood. It was very pretty but hard to clean as I couldn’t hose it out when it got mucky. Wooden houses can also attract mites which my hens once had. After a couple of years the house began to get a few leaks and needed constant repairs. However, with my new Eglu I find it is so much quicker and easier to clean. I can just tip the waste collected on the tray into the bin and then wipe clean the whole house. Every so often I can hose it out to give it a good freshen up. The hens seem to love the cosy nesting area which I fill with hen bedding for them. It’s also really easy to open and shut the door to the Eglu in the mornings and at bedtime.
What are your plans for the future?
I would love to continue to save more battery hens in the future and when I am old enough I would really like to become a rehoming volunteer. Until then I shall continue to help the charity by raising money for them with the sale of my hens eggs and the wooden decorations I make.
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