Chooks seek refuge
THANKS to animal rights campaigns, the cruel conditions that millions of Australian battery hens endure have become common knowledge.
While free range eggs have become a popular choice among compassionate shoppers, a new project is allowing Ipswich animal lovers to take their passion for the domestic birds even further.
The KFC - Kindness For Chickens Project allows people to foster and adopt ex-battery hens, and the Brisbane-based movement is in the process of developing an Ipswich outpost.
Ipswich Fowl Foster Carer Sonja van den Ende said the project had a very positive message.
"Dean, the founder of Kindness for Chickens obtains birds from farms, and generally they're killed when they stop laying, so this gives them a great new life that they never would have known," Ms van den Ende said.
"They haven't been outside before, they don't know what greens are and they have to learn how to eat and drink with their cut beaks.
"A lot of them have injured feet from wire cages, and have lost a lot of feathers.
"It's surprising, though, how fast their instincts kick in; they'll start pecking and digging around quite quickly."
Fellow Ipswich carer Deborah Farrell said fostering for rescued hens was a moving experience.
Ms Farrell is fostering six hens.
"They haven't been outside before, and seeing them start to learn everything is one of the nicest things," Ms Farrell said.
"We're doing it because we just want to give something back."
Ms van den Ende said while the hens were largely past point of lay, some of the rehomed birds did lay occasionally.
"But it's not only about eggs, the hens provide pest control, chicken manure is a great fertiliser, and they're also great pets and beautiful animals," she said.
Ms Farrell said her wards were past cage mates who had already secured a future home.
Kindness For Chickens founder Dean Bleasdale, aka Green Dean, said Fowl Foster Carers were always required.
"We definitely need more foster carers, and anyone who is interested can take part in a workshop training session to qualify," Mr Bleasdale said.
Workshops for the non-profit project cost $25 and dates are listed at www.greendean.com.au.
There are more than 10 million battery-caged egg producing hens across Australia, according to the RSPCA Qld.
The hens live in cramped, overcrowded wire cages.
They often suffer injuries, undergo de-beaking and force-moulting, and are usually killed when egg-laying stops.