A woman in Northern Ireland has come to the rescue of hundreds of hens which were about to be sent to slaughter.
Diana McChesney, 45, from Lisbellaw, County Fermanagh, used a local bus – more commonly rented for hen parties – to move the chickens to her home.
She believes she has rescued more than 1,000 as a result from the farm unit, and has about 50 left in her garden after giving them to locals for their eggs.
“We’ve probably rescued 1,100 in total,” Miss McChesney told the PA news agency. “It just spiralled, and I was caught in the moment of, ‘I’m saving some hens!’
“It’s great for children because… they know that the egg came from the chicken and it’s not coming from these units where the chickens don’t really see the light of day.”
Keeping hens has been a part of Miss McChesney’s life since 2019, having taken on three last October before adding six more at the start of lockdown.
“I began to think ‘well, they’re crammed so close together, and how can that be a happy life for them?’ So that’s when I got a few hens,” the vegetarian of 29 years said.
Towards the end of September, Miss McChesney decided to add some more to her crew, and was informed by locals they would take some on too.
So on September 22 she went about rescuing hundreds of the feathered friends from a farm unit, where they were about to be sent to slaughter, going back for more over the next few days with the help of a bus and a cattle trailer.
Storing them in her garden proved a challenging task – with the space underneath a trampoline used as a makeshift chicken home – while one hen has been rejected by the group.
“Every time she tries to go out she gets picked on,” said Miss McChesney of the hen she has yet to name. “She hides in the coop all day, so I take her out and she cuddles with me and we do selfies.”
However, she said the chickens are fun to have around, and believes their eggs are all the better for their new lifestyle.
“Chickens are very curious creatures,” she said. “They’re quite funny to watch and they have their own little characters.
“You get quite attached to them and they get quite attached to you. Every morning as soon as they see you they get all excited.
“People come to me and say the eggs taste so much better, and knowing that I’m eating an egg from a very happy hen, you have a satisfaction there.”