Keeping any pet is a responsibility and hens are no exception. As hen owners we have a duty to ensure that as far as possible all their physical and mental needs are being addressed.
The RSPCA list 5 freedoms that any animal should be able to enjoy:
- Freedom from Hunger and Thirst: By ready access to fresh water and a diet to maintain full health and vigour
- Freedom from Discomfort: By providing an appropriate environment including shelter and a comfortable resting area
- Freedom from Pain, Injury or Disease: By providing appropriate preventative measures, along with rapid diagnosis and treatment.
- Freedom to Express Normal Behaviour: By providing for species specific requirements with respect to space, enrichment and social needs
- Freedom from Fear and Distress: By ensuring species specific conditions and treatment which avoid mental suffering
In reality this translates as providing access to free range space, somewhere to scratch about and forage for bugs and a dust bath area to keep their feathers in tip top condition. Good food and access to clean water and shelter and safety from predators are essential.
Finally always seek advice and appropriate treatment is your hen seems unwell or injured.
If you would like to ask Gaynor a hen health question please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call Hen Central on 01884 860084. To support our Advice Line we ask for a nominal donation to help fund this service, so that we can continue to help your hens.