Where do these hens come from?
The hens come from Verts de Terre, a rescue farm in Overijse where some students volunteer as part of the High School CAS programme.The Happy-Nest project, created by Verts de Terre, rescues battery hens, once they are no longer able to produce eggs for the egg industry (at around 14 months).
Why do hens lose their ability to lay eggs?
The decline in a hen's ability to produce eggs is due to the stressful and intensive conditions of the industry. The presumed ancestor of the hen we know of is the red junglefowl. It lays 10 to 15 eggs per year. In comparison, farmed hens were manipulated to produce around 300. The energy and nutrients devoted to the production of this amount of eggs considerably weakens the hens. Before the age of 2, the rate at which the hens produce eggs declines, at which point they are sent to the slaughterhouse because the industry considers them ineffective.
Verts de Terre interferes this process by buying the hens. At their arrival at the farm, they are in a dreadful condition both physically and mentally and it takes around three months for their feathers to grow back, for them to learn to properly walk, run or even scratch the ground, a natural behavior. During this time, most hens will not produce eggs because their body's nutrients are required for the re-growth of their feathers, which have a much more complex structure and are therefore much more energy demanding than our hair growth equivalent.
Once they have fully recovered, the hens will lay a natural amount of two eggs every two to three days.
On the left, the gens at their arrival at Verts de Terre. On the right, the same hens four months later.
Chickens are not as clueless as we perceive them to be. They have distinct personalities and a sense of self-awareness shown by their self-control when waiting for a better food reward, and self-assessment of their position in the "pecking order". They are able to remember, have an incredible sense of numbers and perceive time intervals. Most importantly, they are able to experience a range of emotions including fear, anticipation and anxiety and even possess a form of simple sympathy known as emotional contagion.
Our Project at ISB:
We have decided to adopt Verts de Terre's hens to raise awareness at ISB. To begin this project we will care for 4 hens which have arrived at the farm in September, and are therefore already rehabilitated. Once we are sure we are capable of taking care of them, we will be adopting 4 newly rescued ones and helping them recover entirely. Finally, when they are ready and producing eggs, we will be putting them up for adoption!
Our hens are fed food waste from the cafeteria, thanks to the new Brown Bin Project.
The adorable coats you might see some of them wearing help to keep them warm during cold weather, especially for those who do not have feathers to insulate them.
How can you participate?
If you wish to do so, there are several ways to get involved in this project:
Adopt our hens: Do you want your own, harm free eggs at home? Or a lively garden with these adorable creatures wandering around?
Once they have fully recovered, our hens are up for adoption!
- Adopting or having at home a minimum of two hens
- Have a minimum space of 16m² (12m² non-concrete) per 2 hens.
- Having a covered shelter for the night, laying and in case of rain.
Donate at ISB: Care for this project? Help us pursue it the best we can by donating! (see contact information down below)
Help Verts de Terre: For more information on how you can donate, volunteer and follow the organization's progress:
visit their website: http://www.vertsdeterre.be/
or contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org