Hundreds of hens due for slaughter in Dorset were given the chance of a new life after kind-hearted residents saved them. 

Lucky ex-commercial hens were given freedom to enjoy retirement thanks to residents across the county who offered them in a new home in their back garden. 

The British Hen Welfare Trust launched an appeal earlier this year, for people to step forward and save the hens who are sent to slaughter at around 18 months old when their egg laying decreases. 

A spokesman for the Trust said: “All the hens have been working hard, laying eggs to be sold in supermarkets or go into processed foods. They have never seen daylight, stood on soft grass nor scratched for bugs and slugs.

“Whilst they don’t come with guarantees, they are generally happy to offer a tasty reward to someone saving their lives.”

More than 370 hens were rehomed in Dorset during the operation on Sunday, August 6, with teams working in Blandford Forum and Bourton. 

Trish Chapman, co-ordinator for the Blandford rehoming, said: “The volunteers were amazing and just got on with it and got stuck in. They were scratched, pooed on and pecked at times but they never seemed to notice.

“After being collected from the farm the volunteers checked them over, clipped claws and beaks as needed before sending them off to their new homes.” 

Victoria Daniels, Bourton co-ordinator, said: “We were totally exhausted but it was totally worth it. We just loved watching them going from not moving to stretching, running, preening their feathers, scratching for food and even having a dust bath in just one day.

“It was an amazing experience to be part of picking the girls up from the farm and meeting the lovely families who came to pick them up to start a happy free-range life.”

The Trust rehomes around 50,000 hens across the country each year, as well as aiming to educate shoppers about caged eggs hidden in processed foods.

Gaynor Davies, the charity’s head of operations, said: “There is no better feeling than watching these girls flourish after they emerge from the commercial system.

“They have a full bill of health and will soon become much-loved pets. With a bit of TLC, they become incredibly tame, and they’re often described as cats and dogs with feathers.

“If you’ve ever considered giving some ex-battery hens a home my only advice would be to do it. You won’t regret it.”

Anyone interested in re-homing hens can register their details on the Trust’s website at or call 01884 860084 for more information.