A FAMILY from Barry has taken delivery of hens in need of a fresh start in life and given them a new home.

Sara Long-Crosbie, of Severn Avenue, has re-homed “the girls” following her involvement with non-profit organisation, Fresh Start For Hens.

The nationwide, volunteer-run group aims to rehome ex commercial hens from farms across the country before they are sent to slaughter.

The hens, usually Red Warren hens, come from caged and free-range farms that provide eggs for supermarkets across the UK.

The girls are usually around 72 weeks old when they are sent to slaughter and classed as no longer viable for the farmer due to a slight drop in egg production.

But hens can still live for many years and will usually still lay eggs.

Fresh Start For Hens speaks to farmers who are willing to send their hens to new homes instead of to the slaughter house and then sets up dates for the upcoming rescues.

The organisation finds homes for up to 5000 hens at any one given rescue and it currently has around three rehoming dates running every month.

The local collection points in the Vale are based Barry and opened by volunteers Diane Davies, of Winston Road, and Sara Long-crosbie.

Mrs Long-crosbie opened a collection point for hens that came from a local farm on Saturday, January 18.

Mrs Davies also opened her collection point for reserved hens to be collected on Saturday, January 25.

Those hens were from a farm in England and the total re-homers nationwide that day was around 5000.

Mrs Long-crosbie, 37, said: “Seeing these little beauties going to a new forever home is always heart-warming.

“Every hen has its own personality and character.

“You wouldn't think chickens would be like that because they have always been seen as dumb animals, but they really aren't.

“Usually when the hens arrive at the collection point they are very nervous and jumpy.

“They would have been collected by a team of volunteers at the farm in the early hours of the morning, put in transportation creates and loaded onto vans ready to go to their destinations.

“On arrival they are taken out of the creates and put in a holding area so the person's who's running the collection point can monitor them for a few hours and provide food and water for them until the time comes when their new owners who had reserved them online and paid a donation come to collect them.

“The chickens may never have had much contact with people or even experienced the sights and sounds of things outdoors such as birds, noises from cars and other animals such as cats.

“Seeing them reacting to things like that for the first time can be a little heart-breaking.

“Some hens turn up nearly bold, some partially feathered and some fully feathered.

“It all depends on the conditions of where they came from and the size of the flock they were in.

“But within a few weeks of being in a new home they will produce new feathers and get colour in their combs.

“They look like totally different ladies."

She added: “I have nine hens in total - eight being rescue hens from Fresh Start For Hens and they are wonderful pets.

“My two children, Phynix, nine, and Serenity-Star, five, both love helping feed them, collecting the eggs and also eating the eggs, which I will say are divine and nothing like ones you buy in a supermarket.”

Ms Davies, 37, added: “I do it to help the chickens.

“They are fantastic animals with great personalities.

“It brings me such joy to see them go to their forever homes and not into the food chain."

For more information, visit freshstartforhens.co.uk