Read the Blog

About Battery Hens

Eva's story

Chicken factory of Doom

Tips on keeping chickens

How you can help (and it doesn't have to cost you any money!)

Rescuing battery hens


Contact us

Latest News:
Two Chickens In Need Of Good Home - 1 Girl, 1 Boy ~*VERY pretty!*~
posted by Scarlet, 24 November 2008, 8:01pm

Rescuing battery hens

Happy hens...
Posted by Scarlet

The Actual Rescuing Of The Hen

There are a few ways you can go about 'adopting' a battery hen. (Not included is actually breaking in and rescuing one for yourself - but I wouldn't recommend that cos it's probably not legal - I dunno though >.< )

  1. There are organisations set up to rehome ex-battery hens (such as the Battery Hen Welfare Trust). They rescue the hens for you and get them checked out for you, all you gotta do is adopt them! It’s a really good idea, actually. You’ll know that the hens have been well looked after (since they were rescued), you can ask the people for advice and you won’t get into trouble :p

  2. You can go to a nearby battery farmer (if there are any nearby) and ask if you can buy some battery hens from him. Ask how much it costs to buy two, and when you get a price use that to negotiate a price for a higher number, eg. Four for twice the cost! Usually, battery hens range from 50p to £2:00.

  3. Or, if you live anyway near a chicken factory or anything like that - you could always wait until a chicken escapes and try to rescue it then? Just a suggestion.

Looking After Rescued Hens

So you have rescued a battery hen? Don't worry about making mistakes they are very easy to care for and very rewarding too - remember the hen has had a pretty tough life so far so already it's a survivor and will really appreciate it's new quality of life you supply.


If you are letting them free-range, they need a nice safe hut to sleep in. Also, it is best t keep new hens locked inside the henhouse/hut for a day or two, or let them out in a small enclosed run. This is so that they know they are now ‘home,’ and they won’t go wandering off anywhere when they are released-make sure they have access to food and water when they are locked in though, and as much light as possible!

Now remember that if the hut has perches (which the chickens will enjoy) then the hen may not have the strength to fly up onto it and may choose to sleep on the floor for awhile - don’t worry she’ll soon get stronger ;) !

Also, you will need to check on your new ex-battery hens, because they probably won’t know that they are supposed to sleep in the hen house at night, although they will learn eventually - but keep an eye out for strays after dark and herd them to their bed!

Make sure the henhouse is sturdy and locked - you never know when Mr Fox (or Mrs!) or other predators will strike - lock them in every night, because the one night you 'can't be bothered' may be the night that s/he chooses to attack!

If you are keeping the hens in a large run (I say large, but even a small coop is gonna seem large to them!) then you don't have to worry about locking them in the henhouse for a few days, seeing as they are enclosed anyways.


The battery hens will be used to a certain type of food that they will have been fed on for all of their lives - this will usually be layers mash which you can buy from any decent pet shop.

You can change their diet, and are encouraged to - but try feed them layers mash for a few days - a week, just because it's what they're used to. When we got Eva we had run out of mash and were feeding our three layers pellets. Eva didn't eat them (she didn't know they were food!) so we put water in and pounded them up until they turned into mash, and then she ate them fine.

That’s another thing about battery hens: they don’t know to eat anything other than what they’re used to. AND at first they might have trouble eating certain foods because of their beaks (if they have been debeaked) eg. Tomatoes, but they’ll find a way in the end. You, on the other hand, have to find a way to show them that it's food. If they are living with non ex-battery hens then they will pick this up themselves, and eat anything and everything :p

Health: feathers, feet, bones etc.

Okay, so some of these chickens that you get may be in a bit of a mess. They may be completely bald or, like Eva, only partly bald, or if you’re really lucky they may not be bald at all. There’s not much you can do about the lack of feathers on a battery hen - apparently it takes three to four months for the feathers to grow back, and until then there’s a few things you should be aware of. For the oven-readies (the completely or nearly completely bald hens) you need to protect them from extreme weather. In the sun they will get sunburnt easily, and in the cold and the rain they will chill easily - this counts for all battery hens, they will not know what rain is and will need to be herded somewhere where there is shelter.

Broken bones - yes, some battery hens may be suffering from broken bones when you get them - especially if you bought them straight from the battery farm. I don’t really know what to suggest for broken bones, other than taking them to a battery-hen friendly vet. Many vets are not ‘battery-hen friendly’ and see battery hens as a waste of time, and might simply say 'put the hen down.' If you don't want to - please remember broken bones can heal - take the hen into your house, wrap them up in a blanket, and keep them clean, well-fed and make sure they are drinking. You can take the hen to another vet for their opinion, although at the end of the day you must remember that the most ethical decision might be to have the hen put down.

If you are worried about introducing an ex-battery hen into a pre-existing flock of chickens, don’t worry. Separate the battery hen for anything from a few days to a few weeks, keeping her right away from your other chickens so no diseases can be passed on. Battery hens have been vaccinated against the worst diseases (they need it to survive the conditions), and are usually pretty healthy (in a disease-free way, anyway). When you think the hen is ready, take her to your hens! *more tips on how to introduce a battery hen coming right up!*

Introducing An Ex-Battery Into A Flock

Yes, we had problems with this at first and it was mostly guess work, although we did receive advice from the person at http://www.downthelane.net/battery.html !

Okay, first we separated Eva from our three hens completely. We put her in a small run by the chicken coop, where none of the chickens could get into contact with her. That way we could an eye on her for illnesses.