There were 500 hens waiting to be collected from the battery farm, and Bunty was there amongst them. Placed in a cat basket for the journey home, where all ‘poorly’ hens ride for safety, Bunty arrived at her free range retirement home in Devon on 31st August 2009.
All hens are health screened before being put forward for adoption and Bunty was a clear non-starter on account she was unable to support herself, let alone stand up. She was destined to stay put at the home of the British Hen Welfare Trust.
Where some will squawk, be feisty, and downright ungrateful for their deliverance, Bunty was a silent hen, unable to do anything other than accept what fate had in store. Fortunately, although she did not yet know it, Bunty’s life had taken a turn for the better and whilst she could not carry out normal hen behaviours like rootling for bugs and running through grass, she did enjoy the comfort of a soft bed (far cosier than wire), the cool of the barn (far nicer than the suffocating heat of the farm) and the kindness of individual care.
It took approximately four months for Bunty to settle, until that time she remained quiet; she required hand feeding and was in general a self-contained hen, disinterested in her new surroundings.
And then it gradually changed; she uttered her first sound – hesitant, polite, inquisitive chirrups, which soon developed into happy chicken chatter, confident chicken behaviour, interaction with her fellow hens. Her physical mobility improved, but soon plateaued rendering a regular free range life outdoors a treat saved for sunny, warm days on the lawn.
Nearly four years on and whilst Bunty remains physically debilitated, her spirit has flourished. She takes pride in her surroundings, keeping her nest meticulously free of specks and spots that ought not be there. She preens, and gobbles food, has moods and a best friend.
She’s a happy little hen, and a lucky little hen.