A countryside centre based in Devizes has adopted 20 ex-commercial hens from an animal welfare charity to assist with its education and wellbeing project.
The Caenhill Countryside Centre, a non-profit organisation which brings countryside learning to children, young people and communities, recently re-homed the hens at a collection carried out by the British Hen Welfare Trust in Hinton Parva.
Chris Franklin, the project founder, told us: “Many of our animals are re-homed and we decided that one of our students, Paige, would run a rescue hen area with her friends which was set up using donated materials.
“Although the hens arrived with a lack of feather coverage everyone was surprised to see how healthy they looked. At first they were wary of leaving their indoor shelter but have since ventured out and now come to meet and greet visitors.”
The centre is run entirely by volunteers and currently keeps over 300 animals across 70 acres of land. The re-homed hens, who were once destined for slaughter, are the latest additions to the farm and have been assisting its education project.
Chris added: “The girls have been great for our visitors as, not only do they provide an opportunity to learn about animal welfare and husbandry, they have also allowed young people to enjoy the reward of friendly greetings and collecting the odd egg!
“We believe a farm with stress free animals creates a perfect place for education and well-being as children will naturally relax and get a great satisfaction from caring for them. Our countryside centre aims to deliver courses that will encourage the enjoyment of farming and animals whilst also raising awareness in regards to welfare.”
The British Hen Welfare Trust launches its own Learning Programme today and many primary schools across the country are already signed up and eagerly anticipating their first hands on hen workshop.
Melanie Clements, Learning Co-ordinator, said: “We are very excited for the launch on World Egg Day and our volunteers are now ready to share their passion and knowledge in classrooms. The workshops will provide children with the opportunity to learn about animal welfare and the origins of their food as well as the chance to interact with the hens who will no doubt totally steal the show!”
The charity is well-known for its pioneering work in re-homing commercial laying hens and, through its nationwide team of 500+ volunteers, has found homes for more than 600,000 hens since hatching in 2005. As well as finding homes for hens, the charity also educates the public on how they can make a difference to hen welfare through their shopping basket and eating habits.
The charity will be carrying out their next re-homing in Hinton Parva on Sunday, 29 October. Anyone interested in giving a few down-on-their-cluck hens a second chance is urged to call the charity’s re-homing team at Hen Central on 01884 860084. In addition more information about the charity and its Learning Programme can be found on its website: www.bhwt.org.uk