Egg Magazine
is a British Hen Welfare Trust Publication
Jane Howorth
Lisa Pope
01884 860084
And Finally … Dobby
my free range cracker
We would love to give every
single commercial laying hen
a taste of free range life after
they finish their working
roles, but of course this isn’t
possible. Across the year we
probably take fewer than
free range hens – not
because they are any less
deserving, but because
colony hens haven’t sampled
the delights of outdoor living:
the grass, the sunshine, the
wind and rain, the bugs, the
dust bath – you know, the
sort of thing hens like to get
up to.
So that made Dobby a
particularly lucky hen all
things considered. She
came from a tiny free range
flock of 450 hens living in Somerset, a nicer environment she could not have wished for -
exactly what we would like to see more commercial laying hens enjoy.
As you will notice Dobby is somewhat facially challenged, pretty she just ain’t, but her
personality inevitably compensates. I hasten to add a deformed beak is a relatively rare
occurrence, and Dobby has shown that it presents no barrier to a full and interesting free
range life.
She was initially retained to assess her ability to feed, but could have been homed as she
immediately proved that bolting her food was not a problem. However, as is often the case,
it took so little time for Dobby to worm her way into my affections, that yep, she stayed!
A more up front, precocious, enchanting hen you’d be hard-pressed to meet; Dobby really
just wants to be on your lap, carried, cuddled, or fed – there’s no in-between, she likes to
be centre stage. And she is also a poignant reminder to me that
hens have the ability to tug our heartstrings, whatever their
background. I just hope Dobby continues to enjoy the finer
things in life for a long while yet.