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Family save battery hens from slaughter

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Tischa Breen and her daughter Ella pictured with rescued factory chickens

Tischa Breen and her daughter Ella pictured with rescued factory chickens

Tischa Breen and her daughter Ella pictured with rescued factory chicken

Tischa Breen and her daughter Ella pictured with rescued factory chicken

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Tischa Breen and her daughter Ella pictured with rescued factory chickens

THEY are the lucky battery hens that can look forward to a long retirement after they were saved from a deathly fate in the slaughterhouse.

Though only one year old, the 35 hens had taken a break from producing eggs, so it was no longer economically viable for them to be kept on a commercial unit.

Mother-of-five Tjitske Breen offered to home the hens after reading about them on the social networking page of the Little Hill animal rescue centre in Kildare, that had bought them off the farmer.

They were part of a contingent of 8,000 hens that were bought by the animal welfare group rather than letting them go for slaughter.

Now Tjitske and her daughter Ella, who live near Blennerville, Co Kerry, are on a mission to educate people about the reality of life for a battery hen in the hope they will choose free-range eggs and chickens.

"Some of them had even lost all their feathers so we made them clothes out of a fleece blanket to keep them warm," she told the Herald.

weak

"The ones we got had just left the factory that morning so it was the first time they had seen daylight.

"Some of them were very weak and not eating but they're beginning to come around now but over two weeks later one of them is still bald and showing no signs of regrowth."

Tjitske gave 15 hens to her brother but has kept 20 to join the 12 she already had at home on a three to four-acre site.

"People that I've shown them to are taken aback by their condition.

"They just don't realise the difference between the life of a hen that produces a free-range egg and a battery hen," she added.

Ella has even completed a school project on the hens at Blennerville National School in the hope it will encourage her school friends to ask their parents to choose free-range products.

And although their life expectancy isn't as long as free-range fowl, they will get to enjoy retirement for their remaining few years.

"I intend to keep them and give them the use of our lawn.

"They've done their bit and they're entitled to have a breather now," their new owner added.

freedom

She's getting lots of help from her husband Peter and her other four children, Lily, Sam, Andrew and Daniel.

They're still getting used to their new found freedom but Tjitske is making sure they're not overwhelmed by it either.

"I haven't really let them out yet as they're still weak, but I'm feeding them warm meals and adding vitamins to their water in an effort to build them up.

"One of the chickens couldn't walk when I took it in, but it's up now and managing to limp around."

Tjitske and her family are not vegetarian but she says they're simply concerned about the quality of life of any animal and she feels this should be as good as possible.

hnews@herald.ie


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