Some 200-odd, 18-month-old Hy-Line Brown hens are set to strut into Belconnen this Sunday (23 July), looking to swap farm life for city living.
Not-for-profit animal charity ‘Til The Cows Come Home is behind the rescue hen adoption day, which will be the group’s 11th Australia-wide so far this year.
“It’s common practice that at around 18 months of age these hens on egg farms will be culled,” administration and adoptions manager Sarah Tivendale explains.
“This is due to their reduced productivity with their egg-laying right after their first moult, and then new point-of-lay chickens will come in to then start the process again.”
This is where ‘Til The Cows Come Home comes in. Founded in 2018, the organisation has rescued more than 3600 hens labelled by farms as “waste products”.
“Now that it’s cooler and it’s really safe for hens to be transported, we really pushed forward with these kinds of adoption days,” Sarah says.
So far this year, the organisation has rescued about 600 hens, as well as calves and other farm animals, from a mix of both commercial and hobby farms.
Sarah, who has four rescue hens herself, hopes to double or triple this number by the end of 2023 and encouraged Canberrans to consider hens as pets.
“They’ve got the full personality. They know you, they start to really understand you and they come and seek your companionship,” she says.
“When I go out to my chickens, they see me and they come running up to me and want me to give them a little scratch.
“They’re great for children as well. They can get involved, you can teach them responsibility and they can help collect their eggs.”
Sarah says all they ask of adopters is they give the hens a comfortable retirement with adequate room for them to free-range.
“They are to be adopted as forever pets, [not] into a home where they will be treated how they have been,” she says.
“They can live really great lives with people, because they are so deserving of a life, just like any other animal.”
‘Til The Cows Come Home is run by a team of more than 30 volunteers but Sarah says significant overhead costs are still involved in holding the adoption days, especially in transporting the hens from the commercial farms to accessible adoption locations. An adoption donation fee of $9 per hen helps to cover some of these costs and any extra expenses required for vet care.
“A lot of the time, it’s just a matter of love and care at the new home,” Sarah says. “A good diet and the ability to get some sunlight just makes a world of difference for these hens.”
Adoption applications need to be submitted to ‘Til The Cows Come Home in advance of the adoption day in Belconnen on Sunday, 23 July, from 10 am to 11 am.