The spacious chicken runs in Teangi Chambers’ Woodford backyard have become the new home for the charity, NSW Hen Rescue.
Ms Chambers has spent time fundraising, planning and building for a specialised set up so that she can help NSW Hen Rescue save hens from factory farms. And it all started during last year’s bushfires, when five of her own “girls” needed rescuing.
“During the 2013 bushfires, we wanted to go but we didn’t want to leave the chickens,” she said.
“NSW Hen Rescue offered to Blue Mountains residents to come and take hens out of the danger zone, an offer I took advantage of. Since this time I have learnt of the deplorable conditions that chooks in factory farms endure every day and decided that it was time for us to do our little bit to make a difference and help this charity save, rehabilitate and re-home more of these deserved animals,” she said. “So, when they brought my girls back, I offered to take four of theirs too.”
Ms Chambers is the first volunteer foster carer for the charity. She recently re-homed four hens and another six will be adopted out soon.
Catherine Smith, founder and chairwoman of NSW Hen Rescue, said: “Teangi is our first ever foster carer and having her committed to our cause ultimately enables us to give more hens, that have been subjected to horrible conditions in factory farms, a second chance”.
“The residents of the Blue Mountains are very supportive of our cause and we re-home many hens to happy homes in the region, so having a foster home in the Mid Mountains is a perfect fit.”
Ms Smith started the group in 2010. Some of the chickens initially look worse for wear, lacking feathers and sunlight, Ms Smith said. Some could take months to sprout feathers.
“Moulting is a natural thing, but to increase egg production, the farmers force them to moult by depriving them of food [with nutritional value] and water, and keeping the artificial lights on all the time,” she said. “They get stuck at this stage, with all the energy going into laying eggs.”
Luckily for Ms Chambers her foster hens haven’t suffered from the many illnesses some others have, such as broken wings from tiny cages, curled claws from wire floors, hernias from pushing out eggs, respiratory infections or lice and parasites from being packed together.
They are about one third the normal chicken’s size and might take up to 18 months to sprout all their feathers but otherwise they had been healing quickly, she said. Most just needed “space and time”.
“The first day they were screaming because they were stressed and had never seen the outdoors, the second day they were sorting out their pecking order and the third day they were basking in the sun, preening and trying to climb. Nature had kicked in.”
Having moved to the Mountains four years ago from the Central Coast, Ms Chambers, a sculptor, said she was grateful for the “kind Mountains community”, particularly the support of Bunnings in Valley Heights who donated wood for the hens’ new home and Lawson vet Dr John Alexander from Mid Mountains Animal Health Centre who was “supporting the rescue hen’s vet care at a discounted rate”.
Those interested in adopting a hen can go to www.henrescue.org.