Want a new pet? Rescued commercial hens flock to Ballon hunting for happy homes

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Carlow Live Reporter

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Want a hen?

Would you like to help animals in need, while also having an ethical source of breakfast each morning?

Well, here's an eggs-traordinary opportunity!

On Saturday, November 16, LittleHill Animal Rescue and Sanctuary will bring hundreds of rescued egg-laying hens to Ballon for people to adopt.

The charity is appealing to kind-hearted people throughout county Carlow to offer happy homes to these quirky creatures, who will otherwise be sent to the slaughterhouse.

So, why are these hens destined for the abattoir? Commercial egg-laying chickens are routinely culled at about 15-months of age, when their productivity drops slightly, and are replaced with a younger flock.

"They take a little break from laying at around this age," said Susan Anderson, founder of LittleHill Animal Rescue and Sanctuary.

"When they start again, their productivity is reduced by about 10%. This small reduction in eggs wouldn’t make any difference to you or me, but to a farmer operating on tight margins, this could mean the difference between profit and loss."

Collaborating with several Irish egg farms, the Kildare-based charity rescues as many hens as possible from this untimely demise, so that they can experience long and happy lives, free from the stressful conditions of intensive farming.

"The majority of these hens will live for a few more years and they make the best little companions," Susan added. 

Already, hundreds of compassionate people throughout county Carlow have made room in their lives for these creatures, with many adopters reporting the surprising benefits. 

"I first rescued hens about 18 months ago, and have just adopted my second lot a couple weeks ago," said Celia Tyrrell, who lives near Borris.

"When they first get their freedom, they go from being somewhat bald and timid, to fully feathered, beautiful, bossy and nosey in a remarkably short space of time."

Many adopters, including Celia, confess that their new chickens soon become much-loved family pets.

"Our hens are just like any other pet – loving, funny, curious and ever so nosey – with the added benefit of delicious eggs every day," Celia said.

"Each and every hen has a completely different personality," she added. 

"I absolutely love my hens to bits, as does my daughter," she continued.

"They have given my daughter and me a shared interest, which is not easy with a 16-year-old!"

To acquire a few feathered friends of your very own, prospective adopters are asked to send a private message to the charity’s Facebook page, LittleHill Animal Rescue & Sanctuary, stating the number of hens they would like to adopt and the collection town.

In addition to Ballon on Saturday the 16th, other nearby stops include Bunclody and New Ross on the 16th and Castledermot on the 17th. Those without a Facebook account can ask a relative or friend to reserve hens on their behalf. A small adoption fee of six euro per hen applies.

So, how can you prepare for your new arrivals? Celia explains that you need a chicken coop, kennel or shed that can be locked at night to keep the hens safe from predators, and a secure outdoor area where they can enjoy their new-found freedom during the day.

"Knowing that these poor hens would have been slaughtered without having lived a proper hen life had they not been rescued is heart breaking," she concluded.

"Even if I never got another egg from them, I would still enjoy their company immensely and would rescue again."