Meet the Spice Girls
We have adopted some ex-battery hens through the British Hen Welfare Trust @BHWTOfficial. We’ve called them ‘The Spice Girls’ – there’s Cinnamon, Meg (nutmeg) Corrie (coriander) and Ginger.
I received an email from the Trust advising that they had 350 hens needing new homes in the Wrexham area so I offered to adopt some. I’ve kept hens for years so was somewhat surprised to receive lots of advice on how to look after them – although I do appreciate that there would be quite a few new foster families who had never kept hens before.
What surprised me even more were the recommendations for caring for ex-battery hens. I had to go and get some layers mash (which is basically crushed layers pellets). My free range hens are mainly fed on corn (locally grown wheat) with some layers pellets during the winter. Evidently ex batts need the food they are used to for a while – I found this out when I tried to tempt them with some bread – they looked at me as if I had gone mad! Goodness knows what they will do when they eventually encounter a worm!
Our hens have a very large hen house and I was advised to keep our new arrivals in a smaller pen inside the hen house initially. So I shut them in a little pen for the first three nights. On the fourth evening, I took the top off so they could get out but (as I was told but didn’t quite believe) they were all still in their little pen in the morning. I went out at lunchtime to see how they were getting on and Ginger was ‘gingerly’ exploring the hen house, carefully negotiating around obstacles and looking curiously at the food trough full of corn. Head on one side she studied everything cautiously. Then Doris came in with Dillon to see what I was doing and if there were any titbits. Amazingly they ignored Ginger – even Dillon – who usually jumps on everything that moves – it was like Ginger belonged to a different species. Usually there’s a bit of a scrap when new hens arrive – until they have sorted out the pecking order. Next morning, they were all in their little pen once more.
The Spice Girls are missing a lot of feathers and their combs are pale and droopy. Hopefully they will all be feeling better soon and their combs will be bright red again. Here are some of the other hens outside with Dillon – our Dorking cockerel – wonder how long it will be before the Spice Girls join them?
It’s fascinating looking after livestock – you never know what you are going to find when you go out in the morning – there’s always something interesting going on. My hens come running when I call them – and of course they give me presents of beautiful free-range eggs!
Published in the February edition of the Whitchurch Gossip