Every year, tens of thousands of egg-laying chickens are rescued from slaughter and found loving homes. According to their new owners, they make affectionate and intelligent pets
In a garden at the back of a house in the North Yorkshire village of Cridling Stubbs, soft clucks fill the air. Three hens scratch and snooze in the dirt, while another two peck at the grass, sporadically wandering up to the door to try to spot their owner. Originally destined for the slaughterhouse after laying intensively at commercial egg farms, Penny, Hattie, Daisy, Annie and Polly are enjoying an idyllic retirement.
Charlotte Pacey, 32, who designs play areas for children, says the hens look very different from when they arrived at her home in November 2018. “Penny, Hattie and another hen we called Fleur were so poorly when we collected them,” she recalls. “They were missing feathers, trembling with fear, had pale-looking combs and looked quite sick.” Fleur died after two days, but Penny and Hattie have fully recuperated.