Nonono.Â Worry not!Â OH hasn’t gone mad and started throwing his weight around.Â The rolling pin has not (yet) been put to an alternative and more violent use.Â I’m merely talking about those poor caged hens.
Don’t worry – I won’t discuss the real horrors or show you any really gut-wrenching pictures, and I’m not going to preach, because I do actually want you to keep reading!Â But I feel strongly about this issue, and having spent a few hours today reading more about the hens, I’m feeling rather stronger.
I thought long and hard about whether to show you a picture at all, but I’m going to do it because it’s something every single person who eats battery produced chicken should see.Â So if you buy ‘farm fresh eggs’ (yes, they DO come from caged hens living in appalling conditions) or ‘ordinary’ chicken at the supermarket – or even if you eat chicken in restaurants without checking on its source – please know that this is what the chickens look like.
And many of them are in worse condition than that.Â Lily (and Scrags, in the picture at the top) are two of the lucky ones, freed from their servitude at the end of their useful lives as a battery chicken and nursed back to health by The Little Hen Rescue.Â Here’s Lily after she recovered and grew her feathers back
Yes, there IS a Europe wide initiative to end the caging of hens in such cruel conditions, and although the new regulations are far from ideal from the hens’ point of view, it will at least end the worst of the inhumanity and suffering.Â But many countries are dragging their heels and asking for compromises or flat out refusing to comply, or to comply in time, so January 2012 is not actually going to be the end of it and those wonderful campaigners still have a lot of work to do.
Again, don’t worry – I’m not going to pester you to join a campaign or a protest or whatever (although you certainly could help, if you were so inclined, by contacting the Chicken Out! campaign and writing an email or two to the right MPs).Â What I am going to ask you to consider is helping in an altogether more pink and fluffy way. You don’t even have to look a hen in the eye – and I can tell you that I’m not going to, because I’m allergic to the darn things!Â I’m starting to cough just thinking about all those feathers!
So, what do I want you to do?
Well.Â Can you use a pair of scissors, and sew just a little?Â Because those dedicated hen rescuers release thousands of battery hens on a regular basis and they are in pretty poor condition – the hens, not the rescuers, although from what I’ve read this morning about chicken poo-encrusted clothing …Â anyway.Â Winter is coming, and those newly freed girlies have precious few feathers and they need fleecy jumpers!
There. I bet you’re smiling now, aren’t you?Â I know I am!Â If you want to smile some more, take a look at these little ladies! You’ll have to scroll down, but please do – I just love the last picture!
And here is the virtually no-sew pattern. It just needs a little velcro attached toÂ make it into a smart chicken suit to keep a bald hen warm on a cold winter day.
The Heart and Soil blog, where I first read the stories about the bald hens, tells you that you can make either knitted or sewn (fleece) jumpers, but Jo from The Little Hen Rescue tells me that the knitted ones aren’t as useful since the hens can get their feet caught in them so they can only be used underneath the fleece ones for extra warmth. The fleece ones are not only easy-peasy to make, not needing any neatening – or even seams – but are lightweight and more comfortable for the hens.
Anyway, you can go here to read more about the newly-released hens’ adventures.Â Â Most of the stories there are fun to read and tell stories of the hens’ adjustment to relative freedom day by day, but there is a post on page 2 which you might not want to read if you have a sensitive soul.Â You’ll soon see which one it is.
And well done for making it through the post!Â It’s an uncomfortable subject, I know.
By the way, if you should happen to be thinking about getting a few hens to provide eggs for you and your family, please do consider adopting an ‘ex-batt’. Each time a farm closes, thousands need homes, or they end up … I don’t know where. Probably in dog food or a pie on the chiller shelf of a cheap supermarket.
* You can donate your fleece jumpers to The Little Hen Rescue, or to any battery hen charity which takes in ex-battery chickens to rehabilitate.