My Old Brown Rescue Hen

Old Emily hen
Old Emily hen
This is Emily. Her life as a laying hen started in a barren cage roughly the same size as an A4 piece of paper, caged with many other hens to lay cheap eggs for the consumer and food industry. I rehomed her (along with 5 other hens) via Bedfordshire based hen rescue Free At Last on 20th April 2008. That was 5 years ago.
Emily rotavating soil in the veg garden
Emily rotavating soil in the veg garden
At 15-18 months old, Emily and many hens like her are considered ‘spent’ (meaning she was in her second year of laying and egg production tends to dip slightly), mass production units such as battery farming simply replace spent hens with younger ones. Emily would’ve been sent to slaughter if it wasn’t for the great work of hen rescues up and down the country. Barren cages have since been replaced with enrichment cages (a perch, nesting material and slightly more room) but it’s still a cage at the end of the day.
Emily quickly became part of the family
Emily quickly became part of the family
Emily with her favourite friend
Emily with her favourite friend
Emily blowing a kiss
Emily blowing a kiss
Emily enjoying a dustbath
Emily enjoying a dust bath
Homes are always needed for hens like Emily, if you’re interested in rehoming some ex-caged hens please take a look at Ex Battery Hens – The Hen Rehoming Hub to find your nearest hen rescue. Emily is the last of my original ex battery hens, outliving the many others that I rehomed over the years and that makes her extra special to me. Sadly, she isn’t in the best of health at the moment and I know deep down I have to do the right thing by her and let her go with the help of my superb avian vet. It’s breaking my heart into million pieces, I’m not good with these situations and it never gets any easier. I know she’s had a long life for a hen that was never bred to be a happy garden hen, but I always want more for rescue hens, for me, it’s never long enough.
ex battery hen
Thank you for reading her story and for your interest in rehoming hens just like her.

33 thoughts on “My Old Brown Rescue Hen

  1. She is beautiful.It’s a horrid existence in these ‘farms’ all my chooks were rescued by animal liberation..poor girls did not know what grass was and had few feathers,also thier beaks were trimmed.We made a mash of grated apple seeds etc to get them used to pecking properly for feed ,we made them a huge house so they were safe at night but sadly a fox still found its way in,i rang hubby in tears he was on his way to work,and he drove straight home with a huge bag of cement mix and made a concrete floor in their house.The remaining girls were safe at night from foxes..when we lost our last girl we were about to move and since we have moved we haven’t had chickens.We need to work out a safe snake proof area..we know how to do it but also have to get a healthier ground for them to peck and roam.When we do we will get rescue hens again,as seeing them get their feathers back and sunbathing and dust bathing..and just enjoying freedom is the best when they hop on your lap or peck at your painted toenails :)..hoping Emily finds good health for awhile longer :) x

  2. She looks fabulous!
    I grew up with neighbours who had goose and grandparents with chickens. Now, in the city, I’m fortunate enough to have a garden but chickens or goose are an absolute no-go…
    I heard that in Belgium a city even distributed chickens to its citizens to reduce household waste – feed some scraps the chickens!
    ONe day people here might understand.

  3. Hello Garden Smallholder. I’ve recently started following your interesting blog, having found it via a link from someone following my (very new) blog about the move from city to country (Manchester to Lincolnshire) – called Flat Earth, Big Sky. I’ve been looking round today for things about chickens – we used to keep them at our allotment and plan to get them soon in our new garden. Hope you don’t mind me asking for some more info on your run and how you keep your chickens. We don’t have room for hens to be completely free range as they would be ranging in the veg garden which isn’t great for the veg. So we’ll have them in a sizeable fixed run, as we did at the allotment, and build a fruit cage on the side of it, which will be an additional space we can let them out in.

    I’ve just found that the corner where I’ve planned to put the run is covered in concrete so was interested that you have slabbed your run. I’m attracted to idea of something that foxes etc can’t dig into, but remember how much my previous hens liked scratching in the earth. How much time do your hens spend in the run and are they happy on hard standing with litter on top? Or do they spend much of their time out of the run? And how often do you clear out the litter? I assume that horse litter is something I can easily get from local pet supplies etc.

    Friends at the allotment had rescue hens and agree with you about it being great to watch them ‘learning’ how to be proper chickens, feathering up etc. I went down the route of getting a mix of pure/trad breeds as I’m also interested in supporting people who are working to preserve old or rare utility breeds.

    Thanks for an interesting blog and lovely photos.

  4. How lovely it is to see Emily. Robert and myself are very proud to be the people who rescued her along with so many of her friends on that day.
    It’s wonderful to see that she is still such a happy healthy girl. We can only buy these little hens when people like you are kind enough to take them into your gardens and into your hearts. So a big big thank you to you and all the other people who do this. If it were not for you all “FREE AT LAST!” would not be approaching our 9th anniversary. Linda and Robert

  5. I have homed hens like Emily. I had an Emily too in fact. I know how easy it is to bond with them because each one is different. You are doing a wonderful job and Emily is lovely.

  6. I’m looking out of the window at 18 ex battery hens running around the yard, bought for 10 Pln (£2) each and laying about a dozen eggs a day; how could you keep them in a cage, how could you kill them at 18 months. I’m glad the laws have changed, but they need to change more and the best way to influence that change is to refuse to eat anything but free range. Remember Emily has had a great life compared to the one she had which would have ended a long time ago.

  7. Fozziemum, oh how they love painted toes! I’ve had some ‘oven ready’ hens that have feathered up beautifully after some TLC, a hen I used to have called Ethel had the most sad (some say simple!) face I’d ever seen but what a lovely hen she was. I’m sorry you lost some to a fox, that must have been horrible x

  8. Thanks for highlighting ex-battery hens again. We will be getting hens and I’m determined to include some ex-battery hens in our flock – provided they can travel ok to North Uist. Hopefully we will be ready for some next year, I’d love to give some a new start in our huge garden. Thanks. Emily is lovely and I’m sure she has relished everyday she had spent with you.

  9. Karen, what a lovely post on Emily – and wonderful photos of her (mine never seem to sit/stand still long enough for a decent shot). Five years is an amazing age for an ex-batt and you should take comfort in the fact that you’ve given her the freedom and care that she always deserved.

  10. You are amazing and Emily is gorgeous! I’m weeping now because I want her to live another 10 years of happiness! I am in Australia and I’m going to check out rescued hen organizations here – you and Emily have inspired me. We always eat free range, organic eggs, but we could all do much more here to help our feathered friends. Thank-you so much for highlighting their plight – if there were more people like you all chickens would have the opportunity to live a happy, natural life.

  11. <3 This is a wonderful post. I'm sure Emily knows what a difference you made in her life! You've inspired me to look into getting an ex-battery hen or two. Emily is a beautiful bird, and I'm so glad for you and her that she became part of your family!

  12. This just shows what feelings animals have and should be allowed to live decent lives with access to outdoors and some TLC – even those destined for the food industry. Emily landed on her little feet with you and looks so cute and happy. My friends tell me mine are spoiled, and compared to some maybe they are, but we all know they deserve it – if your animals are happy it makes you happy and a better person for it. Keeping hens has taught me to stop and appreciate the simple things in life – and never a day goes by without laughing at some of their antics. Like Veronica have made the move from Manchester to Lincolnshire and it is just so rewarding all round. I am lucky, and my girls are too! We send Emily a few virtual woodlice and a spoonful of tuna as a treat!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.