Lizzy to the res­cue

Hens saved from slaugh­ter

Your Chickens - - Contents -

When Lizzy Page heard from a friend that 4,000 bat­tery hens were due to be slaugh­tered nearby, lack of ex­pe­ri­ence didn’t pre­vent her from step­ping in.

“I was pretty sure sav­ing four would be bet­ter than sav­ing none,” she says, though even that seemed daunt­ing at the time. Lizzy, from Strat­fordupon-Avon, was en­cour­aged to save some bat­tery hens by a friend who had pre­vi­ously res­cued 12 from slaugh­ter.

The ex­pe­ri­ence was not what Lizzy was ex­pect­ing. “I had some no­tion of choos­ing birds from a grassy pen,” she laughed. In­stead, she was asked to crawl up a lad­der into a cramped coop. Then the smell hit. “Noth­ing could have pre­pared me for the smell of urine and the hec­tic noise of fright­ened birds.”

What fol­lowed was chas­ing fran­tic chick­ens while hold­ing her breath against the smell and bal­anc­ing on the beams of the coop – with the warn­ing of the farmer that to fall off was to fall through echo­ing in her ears. At the time, Lizzy had never even picked up a chicken, so it was a while be­fore she made her first catch. Even­tu­ally though, she was load­ing her four cho­sen birds into a bor­rowed dog cage she had in the boot of her car.

Af­ter a night in the kitchen for the birds – the only op­tion, as Lizzy did not yet have a coop – the next morn­ing, she went out to buy them a new home. Her coop was pur­chased and a neigh­bour en­listed to as­sem­ble it; while they waited, Lizzy de­cided to heat the tem­po­rary home, an out­house, us­ing an oil-filled ra­di­a­tor.

“It was a few days be­fore we got into a rou­tine,” she said. “I vis­ited a lo­cal store for some ad­vice, bought oys­ter shells as grit and added vine­gar to the wa­ter as a tonic. One chicken needed to be treated with cream for sore skin that had been pecked at.”

It wasn’t long be­fore the chick­ens started to feel like part of the fam­ily. “I be­gan han­dling them daily. They seemed to like a cud­dle and a stroke, and the eggs be­came more fre­quent.”

Lizzy saw her res­cued chick­ens change in only a few short weeks. Af­ter care­fully fox-proof­ing the gar­den – a process that in­volved tak­ing up her pa­tio – Lizzy trans­ferred her hens to an out­side run. They’re very happy there. They started to use the sand bath and to sun­bathe, as well as en­ter­tain them­selves, try­ing to grab the cab­bage leaves Lizzy dan­gles from string down into their run.

Where they were quite bald when they ar­rived, Lizzy can now see a great deal of feather re-growth, and is re­warded for her ef­forts with an in­creas­ing num­ber of eggs. “They have brought a huge sense of hap­pi­ness and calm to me,” she said. “De­spite my hap­haz­ard way of go­ing about things, I do not re­gret get­ting them one bit. Some­times you just have to find some chick­ens – and run!”

They have brought a huge sense of hap­pi­ness and calm to me

ABOVE: Lizzie with one of her hens BE­LOW: One of Lizzy’s birds checks out Your Chick­ens

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