In November, my sister Hannah took in four battery hens from the British Hen Welfare Trust. They looked skeletal and raw, having spent their lives inside in the dark with no space to stretch their wings.
But now three of them are doing great and it’s wonderful to see them running up to greet visitors, exploring, dust-bathing and generally being crazy chickens. Sadly one died early on, not used to the cold.
Hannah and I made a video to highlight just how much difference a bit of care and space makes to their lives. The take-home message is that we shouldn’t be eating chicken and eggs that come from cages.
And even free-range systems vary so much that hens could still spend most of their lives crammed in dark barns.
In the first three months of 2018, according to Defra, 45% of eggs in the UK were still from caged hens while 51% were free range.
The solution is to either buy organic eggs, which have higher animal welfare standards, or avoid eggs and chicken entirely. I really find it hard to believe that (even drunk at 2am in the chicken shop) anyone would want to eat the eggs or meat that came from hens that looked like Hannah’s did.