A charity is offering people the chance to discover that hens can give cuddles.
The British Hen Welfare Trust, which saves about 50,000 hens a year from slaughter and rehomes them as family pets, is holding a rehoming day in South Marston on Sunday, 8 May.
The trust says more and more people are experiencing the joy of hen keeping and learning that pet chickens are as curious as cats and as loyal as dogs, with plenty of affection and the added bonus of supplying a steady stream of fresh eggs.
Adopters often send the charity photos of pet hens that have well and truly integrated into family life, alongside tales of how loving, entertaining, and calming the creatures can be.
A trust spokesperson said: "To adopt hens from the BHWT you need to register your interest by Thursday, 5 May. The charity doesn’t charge a fee but asks for a donation to cover adoption costs and hen welfare campaigning work, such as veterinary and education programmes."
The British Hen Welfare Trust was established in 2005 by Jane Howorth and is Britain’s first registered charity concerned with rehoming laying hens while improving hen welfare across commercial and domestic sectors.
Jane Howorth was awarded an MBE in the 2016 New Year’s Honours.
In the UK there are approximately 16m hens kept in colony cages. The BHWT has so far found retirement homes as pets for over 860,000 ex-commercial hens, all of which were destined for slaughter.
The charity educates consumers about caged eggs hidden in processed foods such as pasta, quiches, cakes and mayonnaise, helping them make informed choices when shopping. It works closely with DEFRA and other agencies to develop practices and protocols to improve the lives of both commercially-farmed and hobbyist pet hens.
Full details of the rehoming day, and the work of the trust, can be found via www.bhwt.org.uk/hen-adoption/