Pat gives c-lucky hens a new lease of life

Pat Freeman from Lofthouse with her former Battery farm hens.
Pat Freeman from Lofthouse with her former Battery farm hens.

Life used to be so different for the happy hens that strut freely around Pat Freeman’s garden.

The ex-battery hens were once cooped up in cages 24-hours a day, destined for slaughter once their commercial egg-laying days were over, just 72 weeks into their lives.

But Mrs Freeman, of Lofthouse, decided to go to their rescue after seeing horrific images of bald, frightened hens on a documentary by celebrity chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall in 2008 and has never looked back.

The 54-year-old looks after some of the thousands of birds rescued by The British Hen Welfare Trust.

She also raises funds for them and Compassion in World Farming (CIWF). She said: “It’s heartbreaking to see the state they are in at first, but the change in them within the first week of rescue is incredible.”

Traditional battery cages were banned in 2012 and hens are now kept in larger, enhanced ones, but Mrs Freeman said a cage is a cage.

She said: “Sadly, some of them don’t survive long after rescue because the stress can be too much - they are not used to daylight or cold, fresh water.

“But it is so nice to see others thrive.

“They are so funny and I love to watch them stretch their wings and scratch and peck the ground, it always makes me smile.”

Last year Mrs Freeman raised £500 for the charities and is hoping to better that with a garden party at her home at 41, John’s Avenue, Lofthouse, on Saturday, May 17.

The fun will start at 2pm and the event will finish at 6pm.

There will be lots of cakes, quiches and buns for sale all made from her hens’ free-range eggs, as well as other homemade treats, tea, coffee and lemonade.

Other highlights will include a plant sale tombolas, a book sale, bric-a-brac stalls, a craft stall and a raffle with £150 worth of high street gift vouchers as first prize .

Entertainment will start at 3pm and will include bingo.

Mrs Freeman said: “Everyone was so generous last year and this year’s event is shaping up to be even better. I hope as many people will come along as possible.”

She urged anyone with a love of animals to find out more about rescuing hens, adding: “They will become pet food if they’re not saved.

“They are easy to keep and not expensive to look after. “You don’t need a massive garden either. It’s such a rewarding thing to do and the eggs are delicious.”

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