Two hundred hens were saved from slaughter thanks to a rehoming event in Hailsham.
The feathered creatures are now safe in their new homes and enjoying a fresh start in life following the event run by Fresh Start for Hens on Saturday (October 6).
The chickens, from a farm in Essex, were delivered to a collection point near Magham Down where eight volunteers from the non-profit unloaded, health-checked and settled them in a large outdoor enclosure before they were allocated to their pre-approved homes.
One of the earliest adopters on the rehoming day was Sidonie Afzali from Golden Cross.
She said, “I’m taking two home today because I have the space and it’s such a shame for them to go to slaughter so young.
“We have 12 hens and one cockerel at present and the rescue hens we have already have such a lovely temperament compared with the non-rescues, it’s as though they appreciate being rescued and the new life they have.”
All of the hens were from the commercial egg industry, used for producing eggs for supermarkets and shops across the UK.
At the age of 72-weeks-old, all commercial chickens are considered unprofitable and are sent to slaughter.
Adopters on Saturday arrived from across East Sussex, some from nearby in Hailsham, others from as far afield as Wadhurst and Rye, all travelling to give the hens a second chance at life.
Most were joining existing flocks, but many went to first time hen keepers, going on to live in custom-built hen houses.
Nicola and Alan Stone from Hailsham were adding to the 15 hens they already have.
Alan said, “I have made a five-star hotel for them at home, we’re calling it The Balmoral.”
Sue Archer, who runs the Fresh Start for Hens Hailsham collection point with partner Dave, said, “It was a fantastic day, despite the weather, we can never be quite sure that we will get all the hens we are promised from the farms because we are reliant on the farmers to give us an accurate number of hens available.
“We should have received 280 hens for this rehoming, but had our numbers reduced due to less hens being available from the farm, but 200 girls from Hailsham and another 1,700 hens were rehomed today, with 3,500 previously rehomed on September 22, and all have gone on to loving homes.
“With a bit of love and care they blossom into happy, healthy chickens, with feisty personalities and a zest for life, it’s a privilege to witness and be a part of this organisation. “
Organisers say the hens were in varying states of health on arrival, a few had relatively full plumage but most were missing at least a third of their feathers, showing bare wings, torn tails, no neck feathers and one had a very twisted beak.
One hen was held back as she was not ready to be rehomed, and will need some time to bring her back to good health, while five others needed on-site treatment for pecking wounds suffered during transit.
Fresh Start for Hens pays the same per bird as the slaughterhouses and purchases the entire flock to enable farmers the choice to provide the birds for rehoming rather than death.
Anyone wishing to find out more about adopting a hen from Hailsham Fresh Start for Hens should email firstname.lastname@example.org, or search Hailsham Fresh Start for Hens on Facebook where all future rehoming dates are announced.
Alternatively visit the wesbite www.fsfh.org.uk