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Ex Caged Hen Rehoming

With the growing popularity of keeping hens in the back garden, one charity that has caught the publics’ and certain celebrities’ imagination is the British Hen Welfare Trust. Since the charity was founded in April 2005 by Jane Howorth, it has gone from strength to strength. Jane and her team work tirelessly rehoming tens of thousands of chickens every year.

Over the last few years, Jane and her team have been responsible for rehoming over 250,000 ex caged hens from a network of 25 regional centres across the UK. The hens are collected when they are no longer commercially viable, at this point most of them would be processed and used in various food products.

Rehoming caged hens can be an extremely rewarding experience but they are not necessarily the bird of choice for everyone. You cannot guarantee they will consistently lay eggs and because of their age the eggs may be a little bit runny and the shells a bit thin. However, many birds arrive in their new homes and lay lovely eggs for the next couple of years.

When the hens arrive at a BHWT rehoming base, they are placed on solid ground for the first time. Most will have feathers missing to varying degrees, they will be given a toenail clip. Some birds may also appear to have bruising because they have weakened muscles from lack of exercise. The coordinator will extract any hens that appear unfit to be rehomed and they are sent to the hen hospital to recover. The majority of the hens are rehomed on the same day to avoid prolonged stress, and so they can adjust to their new homes.

The BHWT coordinators give demonstrations on how to handle the hens for first time keepers. Bespoke advice is offered to rehomers who want to adopt caged hens. Also, anyone who experiences problems can also call the BHWT careline and talk to a member of the team.

The most rewarding aspect of adopting is seeing the bird’s feathers regrow, their combs return to a bright red and their muscle tone develop as they learn to walk, perch and peck.

If you wish to keep hens purely for consistent egg production, then careful thought must be made when considering adoption of caged hens, you may find buying point of lay hens a better choice.

We have been working with Jane and her charity to improve veterinary care for backyard hens and Jane is delighted that there is now a service available offering sound veterinary advice to anyone keeping chickens, whether they are ex caged hens, fancy fowl or keepers of small flocks.

"There are vets that specialise in poultry care but they are relatively thin on the ground, therefore I am delighted that the St David’s vets have taken up the mantle with their new venture 'Chicken Vet' which promises to address the current void in poultry care for our girls. This is real progress and I am proud to be involved in this new resource."

Jane Howorth

Jane Howorth with the girls

Other than Jane Howorth’s fantastic work with the British Hen Welfare Trust, other notable rehomers of caged hens include

Hen Rescue

The team have been rehoming animals since 1997, and they not only re home ex caged hens, they often rehome pure breed cockerels.

We hope that by using the resources available here on the Chicken Vet website, you are able to help your new additions to your garden ease into a more free range life.


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