Nature on our Doorstep - New, The Down the Lane Wildlife Diary
Re-homing Free Range Chickens
About the Hens and some comparisons to Battery Hens
The main difference between Battery Hens and Free Range Chickens is of course the space they are allowed to live their life's. The Battery Chicken is shut with others in a cage whereas the free rangers have a Barn and access to the outside World.
Obviously, the conditions of the outside world may differ from Farm to Farm, but they are free to roam in the Land permitted and although what we may call overcrowded, they breathe proper air and see the Sky.
I did find it strange when I've visited Free Range Farms that only a small percentage actually wander a long way from the Quarters, they seem quite happy to mill around the Shed or Enclosure rather than explore greater distances.
The one thing which is the same for them both is life expectancy, or should I say life usage. Various rules and regulations from Governing Bodies means they are fed a set quota of feed and vitamins which will lead to them starting to lose their egg appeal at around 60 weeks of age. Like their Battery cousins, once they start to dwindle in egg laying they are sold off for Pet Food and cheap Pies.
Many of the ex-battery hen re-homers get opportunities to re-home these Hens once in a while and all be it they have had a slightly better life, they are destined for 'the pot'.
There are a few points you have to consider when taking these Hens on..
1. They are more than likely moving to a smaller living condition than they're used to so you need to bear this in mind and maybe consider if you can give them as much space as possible (and be safe at the same time).
2. The Pecking order may be slightly different to what you have experienced. They have been in a huge flock so the chances of say five hens having ever met for a chat before are remote. Allow a few days of the occasional punch up and they'll sort themselves out.
3. They are used to eating differently to Battery Hens, they have had the great outdoors to scrape and peck around in, so make sure they have access or are fed greenery. I've found that digging up a turf of grass from somewhere and giving it to them helps the transition no end.
It's a funny old World but I'm fairly convinced re-homed Hens know you have taken them on and saved them.
Both Battery Hens and Free Range are more approachable by the human than some Breeds, they'll gladly follow you around and give you much pleasure watching them whilst sitting on the Garden Bench on a Summers day.
But watch your biscuits though, half a chance and they'll have them !!
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