Campaign to save Sussex hens goes viral on social media

Hens SUS-150513-125819001
Hens SUS-150513-125819001

A campaign to save thousands of hens at a Polegate farm which were destined for slaughter has gone viral and the majority are being rehomed.

Around 16,000 free range ex-commercial laying hens were to be disposed of on May 31.

The picture which went viral on social media. Supplied by Susan Archer

The picture which went viral on social media. Supplied by Susan Archer

Susan Archer, who rescues hens, said she saw an advert in the Friday Ad on April 26, asking people if they wanted to rehome the hens at the price of £2 each.

She visited the farm the next day, and took home 17 hens - but took a photograph of some of the birds, and appealed on her Facebook page for others to help.

“There were 16,000 of these hens,” said Susan, who started rescuing hens last year, and now has 40 - and two cockerels.

“I put the photo on Facebook, and shared it with friends and family. I posted it on lots of hens and chicken forums. That was the start of it.”

The photo was then shared hundreds of times, and picked up by prominent online groups.

“Kudos to them, they have stepped up to the mark,” said Susan.

Now, the farm has been inundated with offers to rehouse the hens, which are all roughly 18 months old and described as “fabulous layers”.

Happy Pants Ranch, an online group which describes itself as a safe haven for animals that are either abandoned or need rehoming, was one of the groups which shared the photo.

More than 100 animals from tortoises to guinea pigs and hedgehogs to chickens live at Happy Pants Ranch and the latest addition is a collection of hens from the Polegate farm.

Amey Campbell-Ward at Happy Pants Ranch, based in Kent, said, “Happy Pants headquarters is proud to be an official ‘coll-eggtion’ point for Fresh Start for Hens, which helps rehome hundreds of ex-commercial chickens several times a year, saving these beautiful girls from being slaughtered.

“Commercially, all hens are slaughtered after about a year of laying, when their production drops below the six eggs a week that is required to make them commercially profitable – but they are still fantastic layers and perfect for pets and garden chicken keepers.”

Amey said she was delighted with the success of the campaign after sharing the photo.

“This post has reached 191,100 people. I’m speechless. Thank you everyone and please keep tagging and sharing so we can find all these lovely ladies forever homes and save them from slaughter.”

Susan said she was “amazed” and “humbled” at the response.

The farm at Polegate says it has been inundated with offers to rehome the hens and is not taking anymore enquiries.

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