Charity calls on Waterford residents to save hens from slaughterhouse

Charity calls on Waterford residents to save hens from slaughterhouse

Charity calls on Waterford residents to save hens from slaughterhouse Photo Credit: Niamh Cubie

This Sunday, November 24, LittleHill Animal Rescue and Sanctuary will bring hundreds of rescued egg-laying hens to Waterford city and Dungarvan for people to adopt.

The charity is appealing to kind-hearted people throughout the county to take home a few of these quirky creatures, as they will otherwise be sent to slaughter. But why are these animals destined for the slaughterhouse? Commercial egg-laying chickens are routinely culled at about 15 months old, when their productivity drops slightly, to make way for a
younger flock.

“They take a little break from laying at around this age,” explained Susan Anderson, founder of LittleHill Animal Rescue and Sanctuary, based in county Kildare. “When they start again, their productivity is reduced by about 10%. This small reduction in eggs wouldn’t make any difference to you or me, but to a farmer on tight margins, this could be the difference between profit and loss.”

Collaborating with egg farms across the country, Susan and her team rescue as many hens as possible from this unfortunate fate, so that they can experience long and happy lives, free from the stress of intensive farming. “The majority of these hens will live for a few more years,” Susan said, “and they make the best little companions.”

Already, hundreds of compassionate people throughout county Waterford have made room in their lives for these creatures, with many adopters reporting that their new hens soon become much- loved members of the family.

“My rescue hens are such wonderful little ladies with such funny personalities,” said Margaret Butler, who keeps hens at her home near Dungarvan. “My kids absolutely love them and get such joy from looking after them and collecting their delicious eggs.”

Margaret also mentioned how rewarding it was to see her hens transform from partially-feathered, pale, terrified critters into beautiful, confident and happy birds. “They were quite scruffy, pale and frightened when they first arrived,” she said. “But with a bit of fresh air, space and treats they flourished into the most beautiful divas.”

To acquire feathered friends of your very own, prospective adopters must send a private message to the charity’s Facebook page, LittleHill Animal Rescue & Sanctuary, stating the number of hens they would like to adopt and the collection town: Waterford or Dungarvan. Those without a Facebook account can ask a relative or friend to reserve hens on their behalf. A small adoption fee of six euro per hen applies.

So, what must people do to prepare for their new arrivals? “You’ll need a chicken coop, kennel or shed that can be locked at night, and an outdoor area that’s preferably fenced to keep the hens safe from foxes and dogs,” says Margaret. “They are very easy to look after, and they’ll thank you for giving them a new life with cuddles, laughs, and the most delicious eggs!”

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