Happy HuHa hens

by Diane on 22/03/2014

A couple of weeks ago our beloved chicken Gerda died. She got sick like her sister Petra did a year ago (read Good-bye Petra, hello Ingrid if you don’t remember) and again we knew it would be cruel to keep Ingrid as just one single hen all by herself.

Good-bye Gerda (front).

Good-bye Gerda (front).

To get a new chicken, we first tried the place we got Ingrid from. Then we tried a few recommendations from fellow chicken parents on Twitter and Facebook. But whoever we talked to only had newly hatched chicks, all being five to six weeks away from being able to be re-homed. That seemed a long time for poor little Ingrid to be alone.

So we started investigating what it means to give a rescued hen a new home. Some little working bee that had lived a horrible life in a cage on a ‘chicken farm’ (aka battery) could clearly do with a nice new home, right? The information we found online were quite promising; people looking after ex-battery hens mainly report how uncomplicated it is.

We were a bit worried though, especially about how Ingrid would behave towards a chicken that may not look or even act like a chicken. But a few phone calls and emails with someone from HuHa (Helping you help animals) gave us a bit more confidence, and so we went to Otaki today to ‘have a look’. As you can imagine we didn’t end up just having a look, we took two lovely hens with us when we left!

As soon as we had made the decision to give two of the ladies a new home, we called our vet and arranged for a check-up on the way home. They passed all tests, and apart from being a bit underweight and missing quite a few feathers, they’re healthy. The vet asked for their names, and with the help of a little poll on Twitter and Facebook we decided to call them after my nieces, Eva and Sonja. Freshly named and certified healthy (Sonja had even laid an egg on the journey) it was time to introduce them to Ingrid!



When we first got Ingrid to meet Gerda, there was a bit of pecking going on. Gerda wanted to make clear that she’s the boss, and it took them a couple of days to get used to each other. This time it was different. Ingrid must have sensed that these two new babes have had a rough life so far – she was super friendly and curious, showed them where to find food and water (which they initially ignored, they seem to want to stay close to the coop), and then left them some space to get used to the new situation.



Overall they do seem to be pretty normal chickens. There are a few obvious differences, like the clipped beak and the difficulties to keep standing/walking for more than five or ten minutes. It’s something I’ve never seen in our ‘normal’ hens; they usually have lots of energy to run around, scratch and explore – they only snooze a bit towards the middle of the day or in the afternoon. Eva and Sonja need to rest more, their thin little legs can’t carry them for too long. Yet. I hope they’ll build up their muscles quickly, because they look a bit envious when Ingrid shoots off to snap a cicada or dig up some bugs.

It will be interesting to see how they settle at night. We’ll certainly show them their beds and will keep the coop door closed for the first couple of nights, to help them learn where they sleep. If that works out fine, this will have been the most uncomplicated rehoming in the history of the human-chicken relationship. I’m glad we chose to give ex-batterie hens a home!


Eva and Sonja: first drink at their new home.

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