Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Liberated Battery Hens Sent to Prison

Photo courtesy: bhwt

It's the "only in Britain" category for this one... The British Hen Welfare Trust (bhwt) has proudly announced that it has rescued 20 battery hens and "re-homed" them in a high security prison for women.

The jailbirds will live at the prison as part of a garden programme offering educational and therapeutic projects to the inmates.

Photo courtesy: heritage-explorer; Holloway Prison, 1851

The British Hen Welfare Trust is a national charity that re-homes commercial laying hens. Since its inception in 2005, they claim to have rescued 60,000 hens from slaughter and to have found caring pet homes for them.

The Trust also educates the public about supporting UK farmers and buying free range eggs. Its ultimate goal is to see a British egg industry where all the commercial laying hens have a good quality of existence.

While it is ironical that liberated battery hens are going to jail, the placement in the prison is a wonderful experiment for the Trust and the prisoners. There have been many stories about the therapeutic benefits of animal and plant rearing in prisons. As a spokesman said: "It is apt and extraordinary on so many levels that some of the prisoners will be able to take care of something as vulnerable as a battery hen that has had a restricted start in life, that has been kept, literally behind bars in a small cage without access to sunlight or fresh air. I truly believe in the therapeutic benefits of keeping animals and the value of being responsible for and caring for hens such as these."

Apparently the hens have settled in well and have lots of space.

Photo courtesy: bhwt

The fact is that more and more people are taking chickens as pets and as sources of eggs and food. Chickens are wonderfully intelligent animals; and, make excellent pets. (My pet chicken's name was Henny Penny.) Even Tesco, the supermarket, is selling chicken coops. Nearly 700,000 Brit's now keep chickens, this is a rise of 80% in three years and the biggest increase since WW2. It probably has to do with households trying to cut grocery bills by growing their own food.

Not to mention, that home-raised, free-range eggs taste better and are better for you than eggs laid by battery hens. Plus, I believe more people are concerned about the living conditions of the hens that lay supermarket eggs. They want to continue to enjoy eggs (Brits [like me] love their eggs); but, don't want to contribute to the abuse suffered by battery hens.

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