Advice For People Adopting Ex-Battery Hens
Karen (Chickens in Langford)
I can give some advice to those considering adopting these hens
as we adopted two white leghorn hens from a battery cage system
here in Victoria, BC Canada.
These chickens have never been out of a very tiny cage, so you'll
need to understand that their 'instincts' as a chicken are not
as honed as you would expect.
They won't know how to scratch the ground for bugs (they'll just
bend over and peck). This will come with time.
2) They won't know how to sit on a roost - you'll need to put
them there for the first few nights. Ours curled up together in
a little ball and fell asleep under the coop as soon as dusk came.
3) Yes, they will be timid at first, and they will run from you.
Very quick on their feet! They have come from an environment where
they were treated very poorly, they will be scared - and the new
environment will be disorienting to them - trees? grass? birds
flying above? barking dogs in the neighbourhood? sound of cars?
Give them some time to adjust to their new surroundings - approach
them gently. It won't be long before they are eating from your
4) Keep them in your coop and or/outdoor run for a few weeks before
letting them free range. They need to get to know their environment,
and know where to come back to if they feel unsafe or threatened
- this is important.
5) Don't immediately feed scraps and treats. Slowly introduce
treat items to their diet. They aren't used to these types of
6) Give them an obvious and inviting nest - lots of straw etc.
They have never been in a nest and will lay an egg wherever they
are when they need to. This will quickly change if you give them
somewhere inviting to go.
7) If you have an existing flock, keep the battery hens in quarantine
for 30 days ( a separate coop, across the yard from your current
coop) - do not immediately integrate them. If they have come to
you with disease, it could wipe out your flock.
the 30 days, integrate the hens slowly. The battery hens will
not be as strong as your existing flock, and will not be able
to withstand the typical 'pecking order' treatment for long. Small
doses. This being said, integrating our two into our flock of
three was a piece of cake!! Our existing hens didn't give them
the time of day, and there was virtually no pecking order beyond
the occasional peck to the head if one was 'out of line' You might
get lucky like that, or not... best to err on the side of caution