Chicken Eleven is an ex-battery hen. We’ve had her in free-range freedom for just over a year now and she’s turned from a timid feather bare hen into the fully feathered friendly girl she is now.
She’s come from a battery farm which is cruel to say the least. Hens live under artificial light to make them lay more. Hens lay on a daily cycle and the artificial light is used to simulate shorter days. As such a hen really has no recovery time and is pushed until they are just disposed of.
Eleven has just suffered a problem that may mean she has limited time left with us if she doesn’t heal up. Her insides are now out. She’s pushed the back-end out (looks like the size of a big strawberry), and that’s not a good thing. She’s fine – not bothered at all by it – but it could be prone to infection, and it’ll lead her to being prey for the other chickens.
Sadly this means she may be put down if treatment doesn’t rectify the problem. One thing we have done is to keep her in the dark (to stop the egg laying) and feed her yoghurt/hen feed mix, with poultry spice. She has a hard-boiled egg for lunch to keep her protein intake up. One thing NOT to do is use any haemorrhoid creams on the ‘expulsion’ as this is not that type of thing and the creams will make it worse. We have seen lots of reports where natural honey smeared on the ‘expulsion’ helps… and that seems to be helping her.
Anyway, to make sure the back-end is kept clean we have had to soak her in a warm bath, which she really enjoys. To dry her off afterwards she has a blow dry…. yes… a blow dry.
She’s quite happy with the whole deal and even started to lay down and doze in the bath. I was sat next to her as she was blow dried and she leant up against me and started to doze again. She’s very content, and it’ll be a shame if we have to lose her.
Alex is looking after another school pet (toy) for the weekend. The kids have to keep a diary over the weekend that they have the pet. Last time it was Buster – We kind of set the bar a bit high that time .
This time we kept things a bit homelier with ‘puppy’ Millie. Alex wanted some pictures with our girls, so how could I not oblige him?
So… here’s Alex, Puppy (his toy), Millie (the school toy) and the hens… Mel, Ginger, Crispy, Terri 2, Chicken 11 and Turbo!
For those who asked (yes, some actually asked – the fools!) I have recorded the effect cheese has on hens….
I have re-read that opening sentence and just shook my head in desperation of where I am in life now…. 🙂
Anyway, even the most timid hen realises that the human giving away cheese isn’t someone to be scared of… It’s actually helped ours adjust really quickly. Instead of bugging out and hiding, two of the more timid hens now clamber over me and get in there with the rest of the girls to get a treat.
Sadly, as mentioned previously, Terri passed away, so after some discussions we decided to get three new girls.
You see, you can’t just get one ex-battery rescue hen because it would get picked on. Getting two would leave us with five…. and that’s just not a round number of hens to have, especially as there would soon be two nesting quarters. That was it then… three new ladies were needed to make the number up to six.
Once that was decided, I took a look at the current run and nest box arrangement and figured out the best way to house and separate three new birds. They would need their own space to get used to the new freedom, but they would also need to be able to see the established girls to allow them to settle in.
I contacted Hen House World, the company I purchased the original hen house and additional parts from when we first got chickens. Back then I had asked for extra panels to extend the purchased run, and they were happy to oblige with advice and some ‘rejected’ panels – I just paid shipping costs. A little DIY skill was required, but I somehow managed…
I explained what I wanted to do this time, and chancing my luck I asked once more to see if they had any old or broken returned houses that may have been returned (they are always well packed, but couriers and the post office can always find a way to break even the best wrapped things).
They went through their returns with my wish list and sure enough they had some panel parts. For a very modest shipping fee the damaged parts were sent out to me. I knew what I needed and I knew I could utilise the parts for my design.
A few additional parts were found (old packing crates, some corrugated plastic and an old hinge) and I set to work on the extension. The most awkward part was the low garden wall that separated the old run from the new extension – but a catwalk was added and that solved that.
Next up I put a chicken wire fence in the open air run to split it into two parts. I also put a mesh halfway down the enclosed run to keep the girls apart when they were put to bed. Everything seemed fine at this stage…
Things mostly went smoothly and soon we were introducing three new girls into the pack (Yes, I know a collection of hens is not a pack, but you watch them working together and tell me that it isn’t a more apt group name for them….) .
A few squabbles broke out and blood was spilled as the six girls fought to fix their places in the new pecking order – and I even had to make the wire segregating fence into a double fence because they were attacking each other through the single fence!
Over the next few days things settled down, and now the fences are down, they are all getting on with each other , albeit with a few pecks here and there. The girls are all laying and very happy in their new home….
…but what of names? Well, Alex was given the pleasure and now, joining Crispy, Chicken 11 and Mel….. we can introduce the new girls… Turbo, Terri 2 and Ginger…
NOTES ON THE VIDEOS:
The new girls arrive at their new home. Free from the Hell of the battery farm, the British Hen Welfare Trust find caring homes for thousands of commercial laying hens destined for slaughter each year.
Our first girls (2010) were quite timid and quiet to start with, but soon settled in and have become great pets – very friendly and lots of fun. Our little lad (5yrs old) loves them – and we have all become very attached to these daft creatures.
Our new girls are a little ‘spirited’ right now, but they are fighting for rank (this is where ‘pecking order’ comes from). The thing to do is let them sort it out – stand back but keep an eye on them.
Be prepared for a little first aid – Vaseline & Gentian Violet (Purple spray – hides the blood, which just makes the others want to fight more).