National hen charity, The British Hen Welfare Trust, is proud to have recently gained another feather in its cap with its appointment by the British Veterinary Nursing Association (BVNA) as official Charity of the Year from October 2015. The charity will now work alongside the BVNA to raise awareness of keeping hens as backyard pets and raise funds for its Hen Advice Line.
The Trust is best known for re-homing commercial laying hens (485,000+ to date), but also educates the public about how they can make a real difference to hen welfare through their shopping basket, and at the same time encourages support for the British egg industry.
Jane Howorth, the Trust’s Founder, established the charity in 2005 after being moved by a Panorama documentary in 1977 illustrating the stark conditions inside battery cages. Jane, delighted to have been awarded this honour, explained: “Being selected as Charity of the Year by the highly respected BVNA gives the British Hen Welfare Trust the most wonderful opportunity to raise awareness not only about giving good pet homes to ex-commercial hens, but also to encourage improved veterinary care for the thousands of hens we help each year. I’m very excited about what we can achieve together.”
The charity, which celebrates 10 years this year, would ultimately like to see consumers and food manufacturers buying only UK produced free range eggs, resulting in a strong British egg industry where all commercial laying hens enjoy a good quality life.
No official statistics exist for how many chickens live in back gardens, but it is thought there are now over 700,000 people in the UK keeping backyard poultry, a figure the charity feels largely responsible for, Jane explains: “We find pet homes for around 50,000 hens each year that would otherwise have gone to slaughter, and public enthusiasm for helping these delightful and endearing creatures just keeps growing as more and more discover the joys they bring, not to mention the fresh eggs they lay! In a few months we hope to re-home our 500,000th hen – which we believe will be a world first – so this is a really exciting year for us in all ways!”