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Christmas Appeal 2020

Like many charities, we now face uncertain times ahead.
Please help if you can this Christmas.
Hens At Rehoming
What will your traditional Christmas be like this year?

Christmas is a time of great traditions, gathering together, making memories, and embracing things we love: Mum’s baking, Grandad snoring while watching the Queen’s speech and the little ones making gingerbread houses. But Christmas this year is going to be like no other…

As Britain’s first national charity to be focused solely on hen welfare and rehoming, the British Hen Welfare Trust has made a lasting tradition of saving ex-commercial hens from slaughter by finding them new homes as family pets.

But this year, Covid-19, avian flu, and the second lockdown have all put a significant strain on our resources, and so we are asking for your help to support our vital work.

If you are able make a gift to the British Hen Welfare Trust you’re not only saving a hen’s life, you’re helping us improve hen welfare across the UK, while impacting the lives of many people who find comfort in keeping them.

Your kind gift will enable us to progress our innovative, life-saving work. We will be able to improve lives, and save lives, by improving the care of hens within the commercial, medical, veterinary and government sectors alike.

Together, we can impact how helpless hens are considered within our food chain, and confidently rehome the lucky ones as family pets, knowing they will be well-cared for with families and vets who understand their needs.

Your gift TODAY will make such a difference to our work TOMORROW.

Warmest wishes for the Christmas season,
Jane Howorth Signature

Jane Howorth, MBE
Founder, British Hen Welfare Trust

Discover which projects need your support

Studies show that caring for animals is extremely beneficial for those suffering with mental health issues. Now the impact of Covid-19 and lockdown is having detrimental effects on those who have never struggled with mental health before.
We have seen the potential role hens can play in providing life-changing support and comfort to those who could benefit most, and we have already gained interest from various institutions wishing us to continue. Obviously we would dearly like to have the opportunity to develop this exciting work further.
Since 2005, we have worked hard to educate and influence consumers as to how the choices they make at the supermarket impact laying hen welfare. Free range eggs now represent 67% of retail egg sales, double what it was in 2004.
Recently we had developed and started to roll out lesson plans for schools, the aim being to teach children about animal welfare, food and farming, ultimately creating a compassionate generation who will help us to achieve our goal to see all laying hens enjoy a life outside. Unfortunately these plans are now on hold because of resources.
With your help we are able to provide important advice and guidance through our Hen Helpline, but we believe hen owners should also be able to find vets who understand their pet hens’ specific needs too. Therefore we are collaborating with veterinary institutions to help vets understand hens’ needs and improve care for our pet hens.
Your kind gift will enable us to progress our innovative work
With Covid-19 restrictions creating confusion and fear, many people turned to us wanting hens in order to bring them a sense of stability, companionship, and a healthy supply of nutritious eggs when supermarket shelves were laid bare.

Hens helping humans

Keeping hens brings peace and comfort to those who are feeling unsure about what tomorrow may bring. The simple act of taking care of a pet hen, collecting her eggs and making food for family and friends fulfils a basic human need for connection, regardless of lockdown. Studies show that caring for animals is extremely beneficial and even those who have never before faced mental health challenges are now struggling during this pandemic.
Knowing this, we have been developing a “Hens As Therapy” programme, which is gaining some significant interest within various institutions, but we’re now unable to take this innovative project further without your support.
Teenager, Keyanah, was diagnosed with autism and severe learning difficulties five years ago. But since taking in ex-bats, her Mum, Suzanne, has seen major improvements.

Caring for rehomed hens gives Keyanah a real focus and helps calm her down in a way our other pets don’t. I often find her cuddling a chicken. It surprises people that hens are wonderful, loving pets.

The good news this year, is that we’ve rehomed more than 55,000 hens, despite the chaos that the pandemic has caused. But the charity, and our work, is not sustainable without your help.
Demand for pet hens has grown significantly and we are proud to have achieved close to previous years’ rehoming numbers. Some weekends have seen over 4,000 lucky hens wing their way to new families without increasing staff levels or resources. Much of this work has been undertaken by the heroic efforts of our incredible volunteer teams, but the impact on our staff and Hen Helpline has caused significant strain, and crucial projects to improve hen welfare, such as our partnerships with vets and government agencies, have been set aside in order to save more lives.

There’s nothing more rewarding than taking the hens from cages at a farm in the morning, and seeing them with excited adopters in the afternoon. The dark, cold mornings and mud is forgotten when you see these hens scratching the ground for the first time or looking up at the sky.

How we impact communities


hens saved annually


adopters since 2005


educational workshops


children benefitted from our educational programmes


BHWT dedicated volunteers


BHWT rehoming locations

Lucky's story

Ex-cage hen, Lucky, is just one of over 58,000 lucky hens to have been given a second chance at life this year. Lucky arrived at her new home in the Devon countryside looking more than a little threadbare in terms of both flesh and feathers, and her keeper wasn’t sure she’d make it. And yet with care, our support via our Hen Helpline, and love, Lucky is now thriving.

Lucky’s story is typical of the thousands of hens we save from slaughter every year. All it takes is one good home and one caring keeper to help bring a hen back to life after her commercial working days are done.

Lucky Before
Lucky After

Lucky before

Lucky after

You take in these poor chickens who’ve hardly ever been outside, with missing feathers, and very quickly you see them return to health and gain a sense of happiness they almost certainly never had before. You feel like you are growing and building confidence with them, that you are doing something very positive in a very calm environment.

Not all pets purr

Hens are wonderful creatures. Quirky, funny, and smart all wrapped up in one feathered ball. Unfortunately, they’re also treated extremely poorly compared to other domesticated animals. Their lot in life is generally to provide us with food of one kind or another
But those of us who have hens speak of their personalities, their fascinating habits and their loyal companionship. Hens really are just like cats and dogs, only with feathers, and their friendship with us is second to none. It’s no joke, they really do become part of the family. Could you imagine the reaction if cats or dogs were treated the way commercial hens are treated?
Our goal at the BHWT is simple: we want all hens to have access to range freely, able to see the sky, and feel the soft breezes, wherever they may be living. We don’t believe this is unreasonable and we work closely with the farming industry to improve welfare benchmarks continually.

Old traditions new perspectives

As you begin baking and cooking this Christmas season, spare a thought for the humble hen. What would Christmas be like without her? Traditionally her eggs play a huge role in many of the goodies a lot of us enjoy. Shouldn’t we improve her life when her commercial laying days are over?
And, once in her new home, shouldn’t there be vets who understand a hen’s specific needs? Unfortunately pet hens are not on every vet’s radar, so we’re developing programmes with vets to improve care for these little creatures. But this work is on hold too.

BHWT is pioneering ways to improve veterinary treatment for pet hens. I am very proud to be collaborating with them to achieve a continuously improving range of medical and surgical treatments for these truly wonderful animals.

“Have yourself a merry little Christmas, let your heart be light, from now on your troubles will be out of sight…”
Hen With Christmas Tree

Don’t want to donate online? Please make cheques payable to British Hen Welfare Trust and send to Hope Chapel, Rose Ash, South Molton, Devon, EX36 4RF. Or give our fundraising team a call on 01884 860084 and we’ll happily take your donation over the phone.

Share with your flock