The British Hen Welfare Trust has been forced to postpone all its re-homings until 28 February due to the threat of bird flu.
Defra put an Avian Flu Prevention Zone in place on 6 December for 30 days requiring all captive poultry to be kept indoors, and therefore separate from wild birds.
However, the prevention zone was extended on Wednesday (4 January) until 28 February. There also remains a ban on poultry gatherings in place.
This means around 12,000 which were due to be re-homed in December, January and February will now go to slaughter.
While this is hugely disappointing, the charity is reminding people there will be thousands of hens available come March who would otherwise have been sent to slaughter.
Jane Howorth MBE, charity founder, said: “The decision to postpone our re-homings was not taken lightly. We believe it would be completely irresponsible for us as a charity to continue our re-homings with the current restrictions in place and risk cross contamination.
“Everything we do as a charity comes back to hen welfare so of course we are extremely saddened that these girls won’t get their freedom, but we are looking forward to March when thousands of hens will be out of their cages bathing in the spring sun for the first time.
“We must thank our supporters for their patience and understanding during this difficult period.”
The British Hen Welfare Trust has extensive information and guidance on its website, including the best ways to keep hens entertained while they are being kept indoors. Visit bhwt.org.uk for more information.
Please also visit the website if you would like to be put on our waiting list to re-home some hens in March. Alternatively, call 01884 860084 to speak to one of our team.