Newly Adopted Hens
When you first pick up your hens, they might appear a little scruffy and be lacking a few feathers, but you’ll be amazed how quickly they blossom. They usually start to re-feather within a few weeks and look amazing within a couple of months!
The combs on top of the hens’ heads are usually large, pale and flaccid because they act as heat dissipators in the warm cage environment. The combs will slowly shrink and become vibrant red once they are free-ranging.
When you get them home, place your girls in their hen house and, if you have a small enclosed run, leave the door or pop-hole open so they can venture outside when they’re ready. If you don’t have an enclosure you will need to ensure the hens are secure and cannot simply wander off. Keeping them restricted will help your hens to ‘become homed’.
As many of the hens we rehome have never had access to the outside world you might need to help them understand their new daily routine by encouraging them out in the morning and ensuring they get tucked up ready for bed in the evenings. Very often the hens will sleep on the floor of the house initially, but colony hens who have had access to low perches and generally have reasonable leg strength, so will soon learn to perch confidently. Free-range and barn hens will not have any problem perching.
The girls we rehome are hybrid hens, bred for docility, and you will find they are gentle, endearing, inquisitive and friendly, eating out of your hand and following you around the garden (and into the house if you let them!), in only a few days. Whilst we cannot guarantee the lifespan of any hen, most will live between one and three years, with many going onto a ripe old age and enjoying the delights of life outside a cage.
On occasion, hens may become unwell after being rehomed – this is something we try to avoid by taking care of any poorly hens ourselves or with the help of our brilliant volunteers known as the ‘poorly carers’.
Here’s a few things you might not know about our work with ex-bat hens:
- We never knowingly rehome a poorly hen.
- It is a common misconception that ex-bats are unhealthy.
- They will all have received the full gambit of vaccinations at chick stage.
- The vast majority of hens are healthy and laying well.
It is not uncommon for some hens to have bruising for a few days after collection. However, in our experience, with a little rest, bruised hens make a full recovery. Should you experience this when you get your girls back home, feel free to call our Hen Helpline on 01884 860084 so we can advise how to help your hen whilst she gets stronger.