Jo Eglen, “Little Hen Rescue”
When I did my first interview for this blog, with Sandra Van de Werd of the organization “Red een Legkip”, she mentioned a similar initiative in the UK, called “Little Hen Rescue”. When I visited their website, I quickly realized that I wanted to interview the founder of Little Hen Rescue: Jo Eglen. She kindly agreed, and I’m happy to share her story with you today…
Can you introduce yourself?
I’m Jo Eglen, I founded Little Hen Rescue in Norwich. I am a mother of two beautiful boys, I’ve been working as a teaching assistant at a special needs school for 16 years, and LHR for 6 years when I am not working.
How did you get started with Little Hen Rescue?
Originally I didn’t plan to start anything like this, I found a little battery hen on the road one day and cared for her, then I heard about battery hens being saved and I had always had a passion for chickens. I wanted to get some more hens, so contacted another rescue from North London to help me, they happened to have a farm very close to my home and offered I went to it to collect my hens.
I naively asked whether all the hens had a home. They broke my bubble by telling me the horrible reality: there were 4000 hens, but they had homes for only 3000. So with only two weeks until going I advertised everywhere for homes, I organized people coming to my garden over the rescue weekend to collect as I traveled back and fourth with hundreds of hens. Managing in the end to collect 500 hens, keeping 10 for myself. They were all transported in cat carriers, dog cages and rabbit hutches I had collected from friends and family!
The sad thing about that weekend was that I was the last person to leave the farm, and I had to shut the door on 800 very unlucky hens that was placed at the wrong end of the cages. My heart broke into a million pieces, I could see their little faces in my sleep, I could hear their deafening clucks echoing around that metal prison. I tried my hardest to find someone with a barn, stables, something, anything to put them in for a week or so, but I couldn’t. My garden could not hold 800 hens safely. After 4 days of searching I went to an old horse yard where I worked as a teenager in exchange for riding the horses: it was empty! I contacted the owner and he agreed I could rent it off him. I excitedly rang the farmer, but I was too late. I was devastated. Especially when calls kept coming offering homes after seeing my adverts.
After this I worked hard preparing and contacted the farmer to ask if I could come next time, he agreed. There began Little Hen’s.
What does the rescue do?
LHR has evolved somewhat into a rescue center rather than just a collection point. We arrange regularly with farmers to collect hens, we transport them, we settle them into sheds and stables and re-home them on to home checked homes. We take every little hen, whether she’s very unwell or not. We take unwanted cockerels, hens, ducks, geese, turkeys and other farm animals. We pay for their care, fix their broken wings and legs, nurse those that need it back to health.
Where do you get the chickens?
We travel all over UK to collect them from caged, barn and free range farms.
How can people help your organization?
Depends on where people are but below is a list of some ways to help us.
– Volunteer on our busy rescue weekends
– Volunteering in the week with general care of animals
– Making fleece jackets for the bald hens
– Fundraising for us
– Donating to us
– Sponsoring one of our resident animals
Do you have any rescued chickens yourself? Can you tell us a bit about them?
All my animals are rescued. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I don’t believe in breeding when there are animals already in desperate need. My original hens have all passed away now. I did not bring anymore home because I am at LHR more often than I am at home, my special resident hens are like my own.
What’s special about chickens?
They are amazing, interactive, friendly, inquisitive, simple and resilient creatures. Like with all animals they do have a personality and have their own individual traits.
Where can people find out more about Little Hen Rescue?
To get all the information on us, please visit www.littlehenrescue.co.uk
All photos in this post were provided by Little Hen Rescue.