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We are currently desperately trying to find homes for literally thousands of battery hens in Cornwall that are coming out just before Christmas. It is heartbreaking to think we are going to have to go into the farm, rescue the lucky few and leave those other poor tragic girls in there, when we know what their fate will be. They have had no chance of a decent life and now they will be heading to their deaths. So every home we can find will be a life saved. If you or anyone you know can offer a home to some girls, please, please do. Ask your friends, your family and your work colleagues. Tweet it and post it on facebook. Please.

These little girls are haunting my thoughts. Once you have been into a battery farm, it stays in your head and no matter how hard you try, it won’t go away. Do they know their sisters are heading for freedom and that by the cruellest twist of fate – where their cage is – they will be heading off to the slaughterhouse? Are they crying out ‘pick me, pick me’ as I walk past them, bundles of luckier hens in my arms? You see, I worry about it a great deal.

But this way lies madness I feel.

So, this weekend I appreciated a brief moment when my head was filled with something rather lighter. I swapped my chicken poo-ingrained clothes for a posh frock and some heels and headed off to the bright lights and razzle dazzle of Strictly with my ballroom dancing son and let my head be filled with sequins and sparkle for a short while.

Naturally though, my thoughts very quickly returned to both those poor caged hens and my own darling girls. I had been away for 27 hours (leaving them in the capable hands of Gary, armed with a long list of instructions) but in that short time I swear they had changed.

Take Dolly for example. In the four weeks since her implant, my darling little Dolly has really blossomed. She has put on weight and grown many new feathers compared to her sister Daisy Doos, who is still laying. Comparing the two side by side, whereas they used to be of a similar size, Dolly is noticeably (to me) bigger.

Picture of health, little Dolly Daydream

Naturally I am delighted that I have helped her but, also naturally, I am feeling guilty that Daisy is still burdened with egg laying and her precious little body isn’t recovering as quickly. Whereas much of Daisy’s energy goes into laying her eggs, little Dolly’s body can concentrate on getting strong and growing feathers.

A hen has about 40g of calcium in her body (bones etc) and laying an egg takes up 4g. So if she is laying an egg a day, as she has been in the cage, then her body can easily get depleted of calcium and lead to problems such as weak legs – something which is exacerbated by the cramped conditions in the cage. For this reason carrying these lovely ladies by one leg is illegal and quite right too. Absolutely barbaric way of handling them.

So to replace that precious calcium, the girls need a well-balanced diet and supplements such as poultry spice, oyster shell, limestone flour and Zolcal D. Never overdose on calcium though, just make sure they have the recommended amount.

So whilst I worry about my precious girls, I also worry about those poor girls in cages who have no-one to check their feathers are growing OK or to soothe their sore pecked skin or to bathe their wounds or to cuddle them if they are ill. No-one to tell them it’s going to be OK, because for many of them, it’s never going to be OK.

On 19th December some of those caged girls are going to have the Best Day of their Lives. Waking up in their cage and going to bed in their new free range coop, with a new family to show them love and kindness for the first time in their lives.

The other girls will not have a good day. They will never know what it is to be loved, to free range in a garden, to stretch out their wings in the sun or to have a glorious dustbath. They will never know human kindness and they will never see the sky.

So, if you can possibly offer any of these girls a home I beg you, please do. Please contact Michelle the Cornwall co-ordinator on michelle.boulton@bhwt.org.uk or 079011 07096.

Every chicken deserves to be this happy!

xxx

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