Hens flock to Athenry and Headford to hunt for happy homes

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By Nelly Berg

This Saturday, November 6, LittleHill Animal Rescue and Sanctuary will bring hundreds of rescued egg-laying chickens to Athenry and Headford for adoption.

The charity is urging kind-hearted people throughout County Galway to offer a happy home to a few hens, who will otherwise be sent to the abattoir.

At present, the hens are awaiting their fate at a commercial egg farm. On such farms, hens are kept until they reach about 15 months of age, at which point their productivity decreases, but only slightly.

The very small reduction in eggs means that the birds are no longer profitable, so they are culled at this young age to make way for a new flock. 

“We’re just suckers for poor little hens who would otherwise be culled; we just can’t leave them to their fate,” explained Susan Anderson, founder of LittleHill Animal Rescue and Sanctuary, based in County Kildare.

“Most of these girls have years of life left in them, and will provide their adopters with an ethical source of eggs for a long time to come.”

Collaborating with several egg farmers across the country, Susan and her team rescue thousands of hens every year, before transporting them around the country to meet their new adopters at prearranged collection points.

Already, hundreds of compassionate people throughout County Galway have decided to make space in their lives for these creatures, with many reporting that their new hens soon become cherished family pets.

Emma Dillon, a hen adopter who lives near Athenry, said that 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.

Emma was also eager to highlight how keeping rescue hens has helped her family to reduce their impact on the environment. This is an especially pertinent benefit to hen-keeping, as world-leaders meet at the COP26 summit in Glasgow this week.

“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 carbon emissions associated with intensive farming, packaging and transport, by not purchasing eggs at the supermarket.

“Our lovely ladies also consume much of our food waste, transforming it into eggs, while also enriching the soil with their droppings and providing natural fertiliser for gardening.”

So, how can you prepare for your new arrivals?

Susan explains that you need a shed, chicken coop, or kennel that can be locked at night to keep the hens safe from predators, and a secure outdoor area for them to roam around in during the day.

“There are many adopters based in Galway city, whose hens are thriving in their small back gardens.”

To adopt a few feathered friends 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 reserve and the collection town for this Saturday: Athenry or Headford.

To cover expenses associated with their rescue and re-homing efforts, the charity asks for a small adoption fee of six euro per hen.