Saturday, 7 March 2015

The Chickens!

As I said in the March post we've been planning on getting two ex-battery hens, and yesterday morning we went up to Dumfries to Homes 4 Hens to collect them. We've had a difficult year so far with our hens and we lost two, Anne in January and Daisy in February. This left Charlotte alone, but thankfully we were able to get her a friend within a few days - Ruby. Ruby's not an ex-battery hen as Charlotte is (and indeed Annie and Daisy were), she's actually an Old English Game chicken (and very beautiful she is too). But we also wanted to keep ex-bats, and as two birds isn't much of a flock we did want the additional two, so we now have Agnes and Tilly! 

I promised to share some pictures, and - fair warning - if you care about the welfare of chickens you might find some of the pictures and details that follow upsetting. I'll start with three pictures of Ruby and Charlotte, both in perfect health, and then after Agnes and Tilly, and I'll tell you a little bit about them :)

Ruby, as you can see, is in fine health. She's here with Charlotte behind her and they're best friends, though for a few days Charlotte wasn't very welcoming. Ruby's the first hen we've had who has been free-range all of her life, and I think that shows in her personality. She's very sensible and a very clean bird. She's also good natured and affectionate, though she's still not quite tame.

And here they are wandering around the garden. They're only ever apart when they're laying eggs, and they do love walking around together. Their favourite area of the garden is by the statue :)

Here's Agnes :) The good news - she's healthy, has bright eyes, a lot of energy, and she's very protective over Tilly. Obviously neither of them are tame, but they're actually easier to pick up than Ruby. I had a good look at Agnes and Tilly last night - the downside for Agnes is that she's entirely bald underneath, and she's startlingly thin - I can feel all of her bones when I hold her. At some point she's been in a fight (which is par for the course with battery hens) and another hen has got a hold of her lower eyelid and pulled it, which is why it's a bit baggy. It's unlikely it will go back to normal, but there's no infection and she can see out of it fine.

Tilly, like Agnes, is also very bright and energetic, though she too is very small and thin, possibly more so than Agnes (it's hard to tell in this picture because she's fluffed up. She's not go any injuries, but her weight is a concern. The main problem is her beak - battery hens have their beaks clipped, and I'm not sure if it can be seen here, but whoever clipped her beak did a very poor job. She has a very pronounced under-bite, and it was clipped on an angle, which means one part is longer than the other part. I don't think she can manage to pick up small things from a hard surface, but she's managing with her mash and other foods fine. If her food is in a little pile she'll manage. I'm upset about it, though, because bad beak trimming can lead to chronic pain, and this is such a bad job. I hope she's not in pain. Emily's beak (Emily sadly died in February '14) wasn't clipped properly either, but it was better than this. 

They're both lovely little birds. Both very pale, but fresh air and sunshine will no doubt make them go as red as Charlotte (Charlotte came to us as white as a ghost but now she's got a lovely scarlet face like Ruby's), and, through no fault of their own, these two little ones really smell badly, which is because battery hens are left to sit in their own poo. Daisy was also a very smelly little hen when we got her, but that went within a week or so. The little ones are rather greasy as well, but that too will go in time.

So, the priority is to get good food and water into them and let them rest. They were only rescued on Tuesday so it's all very new and exciting, and a bit scary for them. They're actually indoors right now because of the strong winds we had (they were terrified) but now it's eased off I'm going to put them outside into the aviary.

As for all four of them being together - we're not at that stage. They've all met, and Ruby took it relatively well, but there were two very big fights between Agnes and Charlotte, then Tilly and Charlotte. The little ones can really look after themselves but Charlotte won't stand for being dominated. If they're left I think there will be some injuries, so I'll keep the little ones in the bottom half of the aviary locked in, and Charlotte and Ruby can have the top half and the garden. When the weather gets better the older two can go in the bottom garden and the little ones can have the top.

So there's the new hens! They're very lovely birds - we've just got to get through this settling in process. And in no time all their feathers will grow, they'll get some colour in their faces, and their combs will stand up and be red instead pale pink. I'm very happy with them! :D


  1. They'll be as plump and beautiful as Ruby and Charlotte in no time! How wonderful that you have taken them in.

    1. Thank you, I hope they will be! Already their combs are reddening. Still far too little and thin, but yes, that will come :D

  2. I think that it's just wonderful that you rescue these hens! It's so sad to see animals mistreated!

    And, wow, I just LOVE your statue! How did you get it? I assume not a voyage to Greece but one never knows!

    1. Thank you :) They're all doing well - Agnes has put a lot of weight on and is getting feathers on her head, only a few but she's getting there. Tilly's weight is still a concern but she's definitely a bit heavier as well, and she's getting a lot of down on her back. So pleased with them both :)

      The statue - honestly don't remember where it came from, it was before my time. I think it was local, though so no, not Greece sadly! :)


Popular Posts of the Year