Chicken & Egg Issue 10 - Spring 2015 - page 8

Roll back the years
… quite a long
way to the 70’s … and I was a narky
teenager looking for a crusade. I found
it after seeing Panorama’s
Down on the
Factory Farm.
I love all animals, but it
was the chickens that caught my
attention. Letters to politicians and the
Meat & Livestock Commission asking
about welfare drew polite if evasive
responses, but the loss of both parents in
my early forties gave me impetus to help
what I saw as the underdog of the
domesticated animal world.
Fast forward to 1995, a move to Devon, a
tiny paddock and pig sty led to trips
tootling around the Devon countryside
searching for battery hens. After much
tootling I found a farmer who let me take
my first ex-bats – I asked for 12, and
came home with more than 30.
I’d never touched a hen until this
point - they’re so soft - and within a
couple of days, I had another
unexpected revelation … chickens had
personality. Enter ‘Vicky’ who was
penguin-shaped and quickly bullied by
others. In separating Vicky we got to
know each other and from there my
passion grew. And grew.
I found a local Shiphams Paste factory
and arming myself with Quality Street, a
smile and a respectful attitude I
persuaded them to let me take some
hens that would otherwise have gone
into the processing plant. I cherry-picked
the worst hens and the helpful guys
carried the crates to my car. I adopted
60 hens each April; the feel-good factor
was immeasurable and in 2003 I decided
to try to home hens as the RSPCA home
cats and dogs. Here’s my first ad:
My phone didn’t stop! Writing names and
telephone numbers on scraps of paper, I
brought 100 hens home, hoped that
people would show up and that I’d got
my figures right. They did, and the
reaction was amazing, it seems people
had always wanted to help battery hens,
but didn’t know where or how to get
them; they didn’t want to wear a
balaclava or use a crow bar either! In
essence, they felt the same as I did.
I got better organized and spent some of
my inheritance on a van that could help
more hens, giving myself the catchy
name of
South West Retirement Home &
Re-homing Centre for Battery Hens!
We’ve never seen the sunshine
and never tasted grass. Is there
anyone out there who can offer
us a second chance to enjoy a
better life? We’re spent battery
hens due to go to slaughter.
Please help us if you can.
My first van!
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