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How ‘therapeutic’ Pet Hens Help George With His Autism

A mother-of-three has shared how a hen saved from slaughter and adopted by her family is helping one of her sons with his autism.

George Pascoe, 13, didn’t speak until he was five-and-a-half years old and while the family has a lot of animals including ponies and ducks, it was hens that really seemed to make an impact on George.

After noticing that George, of Redruth, smiled and made happy sounds whenever he saw chickens, the family adopted five from the British Hen Welfare Trust (BHWT).

Billie-Jo, George’s mum, said, “George was instantly in love. He spent hours hugging and stroking them and making the Makaton (a language system for people with learning or communication difficulties) sign for love while pointing at the hens.

“We realised hens could help with autism immediately after getting them. They have an immensely calming effect and make George very relaxed and happy. The change in his frustration at not being able to talk was very clear, he had a chicken under his arm from day one and they were so gentle with him.

“George took to hens immediately; they were just the perfect fit for him – we now call him the chicken whisperer.”

The BHWT saves 60,000 hens from slaughter every year and rehome them as family pets at regular adoption events across the UK, including in Liskeard and Redruth.

One of the Pascoe’s hens, Florence, has had a particularly positive impact on George’s well-being.

Billie-Jo added, “It is really therapeutic for George to have hens. We’ve read a little about the benefits mentally of keeping hens, and now we can vouch for that absolutely.

“Florence is absolutely besotted with George and knocks on the door with her beak until he opens it,  then she climbs onto his knee and falls asleep every day. It’s beautiful to watch.

“Florence also helps with George’s anxiety attacks and makes little noises that seem to have a huge effect on George. It’s like she knows what’s happening and climbs on George to help him.

“All of the hens are very relaxing and very clever. They each have their own unique personality and the whole family benefits from the egg supply; they are so different from shop-bought eggs in colour and taste. The positive impact these little ladies have had on our family is immense, they make everyone smile and they’re honestly one of the best decisions we have ever made.”

For more information about adopting hens from the BHWT visit: bhwt.org.uk.

Notes to Editors

The British Hen Welfare Trust [BHWT] has been rescuing hens from slaughter and rehoming them throughout the United Kingdom since 2005. Working closely with leaders in the egg industry, the BHWT designed and developed the original rehoming model, and has rehomed over 862,000 hens to date.

In addition to it’s rehoming efforts, the BHWT works closely with government agencies and veterinary institutions to develop programmes and practices to improve hen welfare. The BHWT has also developed an education programme providing resources to schools to help pupils explore food, farming and animal welfare. Additionally, the BHWT is researching and developing a Hens as Therapy programme to assist those suffering with mental health.

The BHWT provides online information and expert guidance for pet hen keepers and offers a hen helpline for advice on caring for sick birds.

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