How often do you provide rehoming opportunities?
We try to arrange collections every four to six weeks but we are dependent on our farmers allowing us to rescue the hens when they depopulate. Occasionally this may happen at very short notice but we try to give everyone as much warning as possible. If you want to rehome with us and we do not have hens available, then we suggest you register with us to be put on our waiting list. Once you prepay, this will guarantee your hens at the next rehoming.
We have rehoming points in Edinburgh, Fife, Lanarkshire, Coupar Angus, Highlands (near Inverness), Dunbar, Hawick and Dumfries. Not all rehoming points will be available at every rescue. Check our Facebook page for more information on upcoming rehoming days.
How many hens can I rehome?
We are happy for you to rehome as many hens as you can prove you can safely rehome and fully care for. We will require you to describe your set up to us so that we can assess this. We will look at every application individually. We may at some point in the future require to visit you to satisfy ourselves that the hens are being cared for appropriately.
How much do the hens cost?
We ask for a donation of £3.50 per hen. Your donation covers what we have to pay the farmers, vets fees, fuel, phone bills, trailers, equipment and feed, with surplus funds going towards our ongoing successful campaigning work for a free range future.
What is the best housing?
There are multiple methods of providing a home for your hens. You can either convert a regular shed or outbuilding, build your own coop, or buy a purpose built hen house. We recommend you research this thoroughly and feel free to ask our volunteers for some tips. You are better buying a decent coop first time that will last you years, than buying a cheap one that will cost you more to repair and cost you in time in cleaning. You also have to consider whether your hens will be in a small enclosed run, be free ranging or in a large permanent enclosure. We would always advise you to buy bigger than you need, so for example if you want four hens, buy a house that will accommodate six hens. If you need advice about this, please ask.
The dreaded fox is the biggest predator of hens. If your hens are not secure they will kill them. Foxes can and will high climb fences and are incredibly agile. They will also dig under wire fences so please make sure your hen house is fox proof. Chicken wire is not recommended as foxes and badgers can easily chew through it, so we strongly recommend small holed weldmesh for runs and enclosures and a secure roof on top. We also recommend that you build or place your coop and run on concrete or slabs. Not only will this prevent foxes and badgers from burying their way in, it will be much easier to clean and maintain. Woodchip can be placed on top for your hens to scratch in. Bark chip should never be used as it can grow spores which will cause respiratory problems in your hens. Rats are also a risk to your hens so always ensure that food is brought in overnight to discourage vermin.
What supplies should I buy?
Marriages layers pellets with flubenvet for worming, layers pellets and mixed corn for feeding, grit, dust extracted sawdust for bedding and straw for nestboxes. Ivermectin (treatment for external parasites). Poultry spice to add as a supplement to their food. limestone or calcium supplement. A suitable anti-red mite spray treatment for the coop. Other items can be added as and when they are needed
Where can I get supplies?
There are many country stores as suppliers in various locations. This will depend on where you live. Below is a list of the common places nearest each of our rehoming locations.
Coxydene Farm Feeds
Tel: 01506 881142
684 Old Dalkeith Rd
Dalkeith EH22 1RR
Tel 0131 654 2185
A J B Spence & Son Ltd
Berwickshire, TD14 5JU
Tel: 018907 61378
Horse & Outdoors at Macmerry
Expo House/Unit 21A MacMerry Ind Estate
Tranent EH33 1RD
Tel: 01875 824280
We always take time at each rehoming to assess the hens as they arrive for health problems. This is why sometimes, if you turn up just as the hens arrive, you will be asked to wait whilst we assess them. We will never knowingly pass on a poorly or sick hen and will nurse them until they are well enough to be rehomed.
Even so, sometimes hens can seem fine at the time of rehoming but become poorly thereafter. Usually this is as a result of the trauma of being moved from the only home they have ever known and transported in vans and cars. A few days of tlc and a nice secure and dry environment will see most hens recover very quickly.
The most noticeable thing you will find about these hens is that their combs can be very pale and flaccid. Their combs will gradually shrink and change in colour to a lovely vibrant red once they have had access to fresh air and sunlight. It’s a great way to check the improvement in health of your rescue hens.
Rescue hens usually have fairly weak legs and may limp or struggle with stairs. This is simply lack of exercise or sometimes handling at the farms. Just allow them time to strengthen and be very aware that if one is particularly weak she may be bullied by the others so this should be monitored. This should improve dramatically within two weeks.
All commercial farmers vaccinate their birds as their eggs form part of the human food chain. However, these vaccinations do not always offer lifelong protection.
What happens if I can’t keep my hens?
As part of our rehoming agreement we ask that should there be any reason why the hens can no longer be kept, they will be returned to our care. We are however available to speak to for advice and many problem are usually just inexperience and lack of confidence in dealing with problems. We would like to support as much as possible.
Will I get eggs?
No guarantee can be give regarding the capability to lay of any individual hen however the majority of rescue hens will carry on laying for many months or years. There are many aids such as calcium supplements to help with the integrity of the eggshell as hens age.
Other hens and cockerels
Please ask our advice when integrating with existing flocks. They should usually be kept separate for two weeks where they can see each other without physical contact. This separation will also minimise any risk of infection to your existing flock in the rare event of the newly released hens having, for example, a respiratory infection. The newly freed ladies are usually very tentative and fragile and therefore they are vulnerable to bullying when first released. You will be surprised and find some though with real character who immediately take over as head of the flock. After a suitable time simply open the door between them and allow them to mingle at their own pace. Inevitably there will be a few squabbles but this is quite normal. Make sure you do this on a day that you are in attendance, so that you can monitor things. The more things there are to distract the hens and keep their attention the easier it will be. In addition make sure there are multiple food and water dishes so that they have choices of where to feed and drink.
What about other pets?
Hens are very sociable and get on with almost every animal. Cats, dogs, sheep are all absolutely fine to live side by side with hens. Initially with dogs, just make sure there is some supervision so that there is no chasing and things should be fine.
Weather and protection
These hens have lived their entire lives indoors and frequently do not know how to cope with bad weather and may stand outside in the rain, even when it’s very heavy. You may need to manually manage this by lifting them under cover or inside the coop when the weather is bad.
If they have bald patches and you are rehoming in warm weather, remember they may be vulnerable to sunburn so you may have to use sunblock.
Transporting your hens home
Please arrive prepared to transport your hens safely. A straw lined, or newspaper lined cardboard box of a decent size will house up to three hens. A cat carrier will generally carry two hens. These need to be sturdy, with slit holes to allow ventilation. We will not allow hens to be transported without a box. Allow a football sized space per hen when deciding upon how to transport them.
First days of freedom
Remember that these ladies have never seen the great outdoors. You will find they very happily scratch and dustbathe instinctively, but some may take a few weeks to adopt these habits. You will more than likely have to put them to bed at night, as they have no experience of doing this and may settle down under the coop or under a bush. It is important to keep them enclosed in the run until they have learned to go to roost otherwise you will spend hours trying to find them in the garden.
We would suggest that you worm your hens immediately when rescued. The easiest way to do this is using Marriages pellets already treated with flubenvet, or you can buy flubenvet separately and mix with mash or pellets.
We recommend a good layers pellet range for your hens, as they need to best possible nutrition, with treats being given perhaps twice or thrice a week. Some specific formulas which are enriched vitamins and minerals are also recommended especially when newly released.
It is fine to feed a small amount of mixed corn in the afternoon, this will guarantee they go to sleep with a full crop. Allow a small handful per hen. Doing this during the colder months will help them keep warm overnight.
DisclaimerThis website contains general advice on those animal-related matters which, in our experience, affect animal lovers and pet owners most often. Unfortunately, it is not possible in the context of the website to take into account individual situations or consider unusual problems or circumstances.
If you are concerned about the welfare of a particular animal, you should seek further advice and assistance from your vet or some other expert.
The standard of care we recommend for animals is higher than the standard required by law. Whilst we try to ensure that the information within this site is accurate, we can accept no responsibility for the accuracy of the site content. Users who rely on the information in this site do so at their own risk.
Payment can be made in any of the following ways:
Paypal: please email for details
BACS: please email for details
We are unable to reserve hens for you without prior payment. Once your payment has been received and processed, we will then contact you to confirm your booking and give you a time slot to collect your hens.
Wing and a Prayer Rescue reserve the right to refuse any unsuitable applications.
Unfortunately, due to the non attendance of potential rehomers in the past, we now will only confirm reservation of your hens once we have received full payment in advance. Once we have received payment, we will confirm arrangements with you for collection.
Harbro Country Stores
Various stores across Scotland
East Lothian and Borders
Border Farm Supplies
Duns, Scottish Borders
Border Farm Supplies
Units 1-4/Turfford Park
Dunbar Pet Food Ltd
18 West Port