op ed articles

For immediate release: September 22, 2009
Hen adoption program offers new hope to rescued birds and at-risk children

A new program, being run by Cobble Hills Farm Sanctuary (CHFS) in St. Marys, Ontario, with support from Animal Outreach in London, Ontario and Canadian Coalition for Farm Animals (CCFA), will offer egg-laying hens a new lease on life while providing Crown Ward children hands on experience with chicken care and management through farm therapy. A local farmer has agreed to release a number of hens to Cobble Hills rather than sending them to slaughter, as is typical at the end of the first year when their egg production begins to slow down.

Canadian egg producers supply about 535 million dozen eggs a year from 20.2 million hens. Approximately 95% of these hens are confined to cruel battery cages where they cannot nest, perch, dust bath or even spread a wing. “It is a life of pain and deprivation, one I would not wish on anyone”, says Lynn Kavanagh of the CCFA, a national animal protection group dedicated to promoting the welfare of animals raised for food.

In the first year of the program, 40 hens released from cages will be re-homed at Cobble Hills Farm Sanctuary, giving the birds a second chance, providing them an opportunity to peck at the earth, breathe fresh air and enjoy the company of other birds in a stress-free environment.
“There are thousands of birds living in these cages and we unfortunately cannot provide them all with sanctuary. We hope that the program continues to grow so that each year we are able to take in more hens and adopt them out to loving homes,” says Christen Shepherd, founder of CHFS. The battery hens will be released from their cages on September 24 and will undergo rehabilitation for about three months, prior to being adopted out. Adopters are required to undergo a screening and adoption process.

In addition to hen rescue, another goal of the program is to help Crown Ward children (between the ages of 7-13) currently living in the permanent care of the Children’s Aid Society develop compassion towards fragile creatures, and gain self-esteem as they learn about chicken care and management. The children will be involved in all aspects of hen care, from feeding, to cleaning the coop. They will also spend time socializing the birds, and watching them gain trust in humans. The children will learn how their kindness produces changes in the birds, as shown in the birds’ dramatic recovery. Each child’s individual effort will be lauded.

Following the socialization program, the birds will be adopted to new homes. Adopters will be rewarded with fresh eggs, since the hens will continue to produce eggs throughout their life.
“We are so excited to help both the children and the hens understand the world is not always a harsh place to be,” Shepherd said.

Further information:



Pierre Bourdeau, Cobble Hills Farm Sanctuary, 416-388-9135

Lynn Kavanagh, Canadian Coalition for Farm Animals, 416.466.5328

Christen Shepherd, Cobble Hills Farm Sanctuary, 519-349-2057