Caged hens find freedom – behind bars

Posted 5th October 2011 10:33am by

PRESS RELEASE – 05-10-2011

20 battery hens were re-homed in HM Prison Holloway on Monday, a closed prison for adult women and young offenders.

The initiative has been led by Holloway staff as part of their garden programme offering educational and therapeutic projects to prisoners.

The British Hen Welfare Trust, a national charity that re-homes commercial laying hens and educates the public about how they can make a difference to hen welfare, has arranged for delivery of the hens and has advised on their care as part of the prison’s garden project.

Volunteer re-homer at the British Hen Welfare Trust, Jean Gill, delivered the hens and gave a talk to prisoners about the work of the charity and advice on looking after the hens.

Jean said: “This is a really interesting experiment and a real opportunity from the charity’s point of view. It is apt and extraordinary on so many levels that some of the prisoners will be able to take care of something as vulnerable as a battery hen that has had a restricted start in life, that has been kept, literally behind bars in a small cage without access to sunlight or fresh air. I truly believe in the therapeutic benefits of keeping animals and the value of being responsible for and caring for hens such as these. Seeing the positive and instant difference that good care can make, could be extremely beneficial.”

Jean continued: “Holloway Prison has never kept hens before so it is a brand new initiative and learning curve for them. Some of the prisoners who work in the gardens will be responsible for the hens, feeding and taking care of them. The hens have lots of space and settled in well. We at the British Hen Welfare Trust are looking forward to giving the project our ongoing guidance and we hope it will lead to a long-term partnership.”

The obvious parallels to be drawn from taking hens from their cages to find freedom in a women’s jail are poignant. But the aim is to achieve something positive for both the hens and the prisoners. Luckily, the hens will soon readjust from being released from a cage to enjoying their new life behind bars – (albeit free-ranging in the garden outdoors). Perhaps ‘doing bird’ isn’t so bad for the hens after all…

To find out more or to support the work of the British Hen Welfare Trust please email, log on to or tel: 01884 860084.