Yorkshire is a significant producer of eggs and chickens. It is also as humane as practical in the way it treats the flocks including some re-homing of aging birds.
The British Hen Welfare Trust have regional co-ordinators to help with ‘Hen Re-homing’ when the birds get past the age to lay eggs. All commercial laying hens are sent to slaughter at around 78 weeks old when their working life reaches an end unless they can be re-homed. The British Hen Welfare Trust work with schools and 92% of the hens they find homes for come from formerly caged birds not free range chickens. Very occasionally they take barn hens but supporters prefer to offer the old birds a life they previously didn’t enjoy.
Ikkle Chooks Yorkshire Rescue is a re-homing hub. for ex battery hens or ex-commercial hens, with a no cull policy. All rehomed birds are as pets not for commercial activity.
How Long Do Hens Live
- Birds grown for meat are culled at around 6 to 8 weeks
- Poultry producers slaughter battery hens or egg layers when they’re between one and three years old. This is when the cost of egg production out weighs the income from egg sales.
- Free range or garden birds can live beyond 5 years.
- One of the oldest pet hens was 16 years old when it passed away. Age for a pet hen will depend on the care provided and the breed.
- The average life of an ex-battery hen could be from two to 12 months as they are about worn out from high egg production when they are 72 weeks old.
- ‘Free from harm’ a USA charity reports ‘Male chicks born to egg-laying hens can not lay eggs, and are not the breed used for meat …. so they are worthless to the egg industry’ and are disposed of as soon after birth as possible. The RSPCA says ‘meat chickens are bred to grow large breast muscle and legs but surplus newly hatched chicks (including males bred for egg laying) that are destined for disposal must be treated as humanely ….. they must be destroyed promptly by a recommended humane method such as carbon dioxide gassing or quick maceration. ‘