More than 4,000 hens will need rehoming next month when the Melton area representative of an animal charity takes delivery of the birds.
Families living in the borough are being asked to offer up a home for some of the hens, which have been saved from slaughter.
They will be in the care of Melton woman Emma Mitchell, who acts as a collection point on behalf of Fresh Start for Hens (FSFH), a not-for-profit organisation run entirely by volunteers who rehome hens from the commercial egg production sector.
FSFH has more than 100 collection points nationwide, operated from volunteers’ back gardens. They are held roughly every six weeks throughout the spring, summer and autumn, and less frequently during the winter.
Hens are rehomed the day they are collected from farms.
Emma told the Melton Times: “We collect them around 6am, drive them to their collection points where they’re fed and watered and their rehomers will collect them the same afternoon, so they’re all safe in back yard coops and gardens by that evening.
“We usually take between 1,500-3,000 hens on each rescue day so it’s quite a large operation.”
Online reservations are taken at a minimum donation of £2.50 each. As FSFH is a not-for-profit organisation, the donation covers the farmer’s purchase price, van hire and fuel to collect and distribute them and vet fees for any sick or injured hens.
Emma, who is a full-time mental health nurse with the NHS, is a member of the charity’s national reservations team and the farm team, as well as being a local collection point host.
She said: “We liaise with farmers in identifying flocks of hens which are due for slaughter and work with farms throughout the country. Slaughter age for commercial hens in the UK is 72 weeks, despite their natural life span being much longer. When we have an identified a flock for rehoming, the hens are widely advertised by the volunteer team.”
The thousands of birds must be collected on teh next ‘rescue day’ which is Saturday, August 20. Anyone interested in rehoming a hen, or several, can reserve them online by going to www.fsfh.org.uk