Due to popular demand, LittleHill Animal Rescue will return to county Wicklow with rescue hens for adoption. Throughout the month of October, the Kildare-based charity will bring chickens to Bray, Greystones, Baltinglass, Blessington, Arklow and Wicklow town, as part of what will be their most ambitious rescue effort yet.
“We had a phenomenal response last time from Wicklow residents,” says Susan Anderson, founder of LittleHill Animal Rescue and Sanctuary. “We found happy homes for over 100 hens in Bray alone, where they are now flapping around people’s back gardens!”
So, where do these hens come from, and what are they being rescued from? Commercial egg-laying chickens are routinely slaughtered at about 15-months-old, when their egg yield drops slightly. “This means that they might lay five or six eggs per week, rather than seven,” says Susan. “This wouldn’t make any difference to you or me, but to a business, this could be mean difference between profit and loss.”
At several egg farms in Ireland, LittleHill saves as many hens as possible from this unfortunate fate, so that they can experience long and happy lives, outside the cage. “The majority of our hens have a few more years in them after we rescue them,” Susan stated, “and they make the best little companions.”
Indeed, adopters often report that their new birds soon become cherished family members. “My husband was not overly keen on getting chickens, and now he loves them too and spoils them more than I do,” says Barbara Gunn of Kilbride, County Wicklow. “They all have individual personalities and give us immense pleasure to look after.”
“It’s totally rewarding to see the starved, terrified mites become fat saucy hens who love you,” adds Patricia Rush, based near Dunlavin. “I love watching them enjoy dust baths, sunbathing, flying, hopping, and generally loving life and nature; they have become the fabulous ladies they were supposed to be.”
To acquire feathered ladies of your very own, prospective adopters are asked to consult the pinned post at the top of the charity’s Facebook page, LittleHill Animal Rescue & Sanctuary, where all of the October dates and drop-off locations are listed, including Bray, Greystones, Baltinglass, Blessington, Arklow and Wicklow town.
You can then send a private message to the page, stating the pick-up location, date and the number of hens you wish to adopt. Those without a Facebook account can ask a relative or friend to make the booking on their behalf.
So, how can you prepare for your new arrivals? “All you need is a fox-proof chicken coop or shed that can be locked at night, and a small outdoor area that they can scratch and roam about in,”
Susan says. “Loads of our rescued hens are thriving in people’s small back gardens in Bray, Greystones and even inner-city Dublin.”
Visit the Little Hill Animal Rescue Facebook page here