Good eggs: U.K. charity saves factory hens from slaughter

A recently rescued hen without its feathers wears a jumper to keep warm. Many hens lose their feathers in factory farms, but grow them back when they are adopted into new homes. Ed Thompson / LUZphoto

London-based photographer Ed Thompson took these remarkable portraits to draw attention to the plight of hens in factory farms in the United Kingdom. Thompson explained that once these “battery farm” hens are 18 months old, they face sudden death because factory farmers consider them unproductive, even though they have another four years of life expectancy.

Fortunately for such hens, the British Hen Welfare Trust works with factory farmers to find homes for them. Since 2005 the registered charity has helped some 200,000 hens enjoy a second chance at life rather than go from cage to slaughter. Rescue hens only cost about $5, and provide fresh eggs throughout their lives – no small thing in tough economic times.

Rather than show shocking images of the inhumane conditions battery farm hens must endure, Thompson used humorous and heartwarming photos to spotlight their situation.

Jane Howorth is the founder of The British Hen Welfare Trust, the UK's first registered charity for laying hens. Ed Thompson / LUZphoto
Factory hens that would have gone to slaughter instead find loving owners like this one. Ed Thompson / LUZphoto
Julia Stephenson, a 1990s London socialite, has a rooftop henhouse for the adopted hens she has rescued from slaughter. Ed Thompson /LUZphoto
Eight-year-old Sam Bradley adopted the 200,000 hen to find a new home through the British Hen Welfare Trust. Sam, who wants to be a farmer when he grows up, said, "If it wasn't for the charity, the chickens would be killed." Ed Thompson/LUZ photo

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