Adele Rake became a hen keeper almost by accident. Her first pet hens came courtesy of a neighbour who had two hens that were being bullied by the others; Adele couldn’t bear to watch so she stepped in and offered them a home.
She soon found herself taking in more hens that people could no longer have or want. But when it came to taking on ex-caged hens, Adele admits she was a little nervous and it took several years after first having hens for her to adopt from the BHWT.
She says, “I used to think I didn’t want them because I wasn’t sure I could look after them; I was very green when I first had chickens. But I used an online chicken forum and there was a section on ex-caged hens and others on the forum persuaded me to go for it.
“I picked up my first hens in 2013 from the BHWT. Once I started, I just kept getting more. Now, I have 20 hens, of which 19 are ex-free-range hens.
“I just love watching them dust bathe and they all have their own little personalities. They’re a big part of my life, I come down to see them in the mornings and at night-time and talk to them.
“We had a thunderstorm the other day, and I was in with the chickens, but they didn’t take any notice of the weather, all they were interested in was that it was treat time!”
‘I wish there could be a rehoming day every weekend’
In 2016, after three years’ keeping adopted ex-caged hens, Adele decided to volunteer at her local BHWT rehoming day.
She says, “I thought, even if I can’t take any more hens home, at least I can be involved in giving them their retirement and talking to people about looking after them.”
Over time she’s done every role involved in rehoming and has become a dab hand at learning how to catch and carry hens.
She says, “I was rubbish at catching the hens to begin with but I was just so pleased the hens had been rehomed and it’s nice to meet like-minded people, and the other volunteers are so lovely, we have so much fun when we do it.
“I always feel proud to support new volunteers and help them to get into the swing of things. But what I really love is when people come to pick their hens up. It’s amazing. One time, I was covered in muck, and a lady came and hugged and kissed me and said, ‘I’m just so grateful that the BHWT does this’.”
If you’re thinking of volunteering, Adele has this advice, “Just come along, see what it’s about and get used to handling the hens.
“Once that happens, people usually want to come back and everyone becomes friends and talk chicken with each other. And you’ll feel so happy at the end of the day – you’ll be tired, but happy.
“I really look forward to doing the rehoming days, I would do one every weekend if I could!”
If you would like to join our flock of volunteers, don’t forget to take a look at our volunteer page, dedicated to how you can get involved with the BHWT family.