Give a hen a happy Christmas

As Christmas approaches my focus tends to shift from the high streets filled with flashing lights and mostly festive tat to the world at large. Being a pagan I don’t celebrate Christmas as such but I do celebrate Yule, as the dark wanes and we look forward to the light. I try and bring that same philosophy into my Christmas activities. Last year I completed the santa run (you run, but dressed as the guy in red) to raise funds for Helen and Douglas hopice (a local Oxfordshire hospice dedicated to supporting children and their families) and went caroling in aid of the NSPCC. OXFAM also have a fantasic range of gifts so I try and tick off as many Christmas presents there as I can. This year there is also another very specific plea which I’ll be taking part in. The British hen welfare trust are a fantastic charity who try and counter the effects of mass production and unethical purchasing. They take on older battery hens who are past what is seen as their ‘useful’ life and rehome them. The birds are  often in terrible condition with most of their plumage missing and unsure of how to be chickens, having been kept in cages all of their lives. Within a couple of weeks however they can be transformed growing back plumage, laying eggs and regaining trust in humans.

This Christmas however the criteria for what is a useful bird has been changed somewhat, because of new EU regulations famers will be forced to redo all of their cages. Unfortunately this means that all birds will be got rid of. The email that I received stated the facts
As we are approaching the end of the year and the new laws are coming in for the enriched
cages, all those hens that are currently in the old style cages must beout of the cages by the end of the year, therefore, sadly this will mean that there a lot of hens going to slaughter by 31st December 2011.  BHWTare doing our best to rehome as many of these hens as we can and we need your help, if any of you have the room for more hens and are able tokeep them separated from you existing hens for a few weeks to give the
hens chance to regain strength. Can you give a ex-battery hen the best Christmas ever on 28/12/2011?

I was lucky enough to be given two hens for my birthday a couple of years ago but with so many birds needing help we’ve bought a bigger run and look forward to receiving our new arrivals after Christmas. I believe you should choose you battles and that only by working together can we make a difference. It is really tempting to watch the news and despair of the world but there are some wonderful people out there and by taking part in these small acts of kindness you can make such a difference. If you’ve got some space or are looking for some hens please get in touch with the British Hen Welfare Trust via their website

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