By Nelly Berg | Photo: Niamh Cubie
Would you like to adopt a new family pet, who can make you a delicious, environmentally-friendly breakfast each morning? Well, here’s an eggs-citing opportunity!
This weekend, LittleHill Animal Rescue will return to County Galway with rescued hens for adoption.
The animal charity is appealing to kind-hearted people throughout the county to consider offering a happy home to a few of these feathered ladies, to save them from the abattoir.
“We had an amazing response from people in Galway during our last hen rescue operation,” said Susan Anderson, founder of LittleHill Animal Rescue and Sanctuary, “so we have decided to return to the county this time around, and will be in Athenry, Moycullen, Tuam and Spiddal on Saturday the 16th with hens that we’ll have rescued that morning.”
So, why do these chickens need to be rescued? Commercial egg-laying hens are routinely culled when they reach the relatively young age of a year and a half, when their productivity drops very slightly.
“They take a little break from laying at around this age,” Susan said. “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 on tight margins, this could be the difference between profit and loss.”
Therefore, collaborating with a number of egg farmers throughout the country, Susan and her team saves as many hens as possible from this unfortunate fate, so that they can experience long and happy lives, free from the stressful confines of intensive farming.
“The majority of these hens will live for a few more years,” Susan stated. “As well as providing their adopters with delicious, cruelty- free eggs, these hens make the best little pets – they are so funny, intelligent and affectionate.”
Already, hundreds of Galwegians have made space in their lives for these creatures, with many reporting the surprising benefits of keeping rescue hens.
“As a family, we consider our hens to be pets and refer to them as ‘the ladies’ – each of whom has a name reflecting their individual character,” said Emma Dillon, a hen adopter who lives near Athenry.
Emma was keen to point out how keeping rescue hens has helped her family to reduce their environmental impact.
“In this era of climate change, producing your own food means that you can significantly lower your carbon footprint,” she said, explaining that she avoids the emissions associated with intensive farming, packaging and transport, by not buying eggs at the supermarket.
“Soil depletion is also a serious issue today, and our lovely ladies do so much enriching of the soil, while also providing natural fertiliser for gardening and consuming much of our food waste.
“I believe that small-scale hen keeping should be encouraged by the government,” she continued, “especially when it benefits the chickens themselves, the people keeping them, and the environment.”
To acquire a feathery flock for your own back garden, potential adopters must 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 for the 16th of November: Athenry, Moycullen, Tuam or Spiddal.
Those without a Facebook account can ask a relative or friend to make the booking on their behalf. An adoption fee of six euro per hen applies.
So, how can you prepare for your new arrivals? Emma explained that you need a chicken coop, shed or kennel that can be locked at night to keep the hens safe from predators, and a secure outdoor area that they can enjoy during the day.
“Chickens are so easy to keep and they are something that everyone with even a small garden should have two or more of,” she concluded.
“It always surprises me how quickly they adapt to our lifestyle, and how we are continuously learning from them.”