A CHARITY dedicated to rescuing and caring for ex commercial laying hens is set to launch a branch offering birds a new life in Harwich.

Chicken Rescue UK will open its Harwich branch in the new year, giving hens and chickens a second chance at life in the process.

Jon and Joe Nutkins will run the collection point in the area after noticing a large area in the East of England did not have a collection point.

They spoke about where their desire to help chickens and hens stemmed from.

Jon said: “We had been considering owning some chickens for a few years and during a country themed show where Joe was doing tricks displays with our Terriers there was a petting zoo area which included Point of Lay (POL) hens.

“After speaking to hen owners at length we purchased our White Light Sussex and two Bluebell hens.

There is something called ‘chicken maths’ and with a couple of months we had adopted our first six rescue hens, then several weeks later another six rescues followed by a further 12 rescues and a three-year-old cockerel we named Leonard.”

Typically, 72-week-old chickens are sent to slaughter to be used in a range of products including human and pet foods, despite a potential to live from five to ten years.

This is when Chicken Rescue UK steps in, a volunteer run Community Interest Company (CIC) which purchases hens from farmers to give them new homes with loving owners.

Hens are caught, checked and placed into poultry crates at the farm early in the morning of a rehousing day.

They are then driven by Chicken Rescue UK volunteers to a collection point where the hens are put in a secure holding area, given fresh food and monitoring by carers.

Prospective owners can register on the Chicken Rescue UK website then a time is arranged for collection.

Jon added: “We currently have two rescue cockerels, 30 hens and bantams, 29 ducks, male and female, and our small family of quail.

“Due to the avian influenza in the UK currently there is a lockdown on poultry and domestic birds which means to free range could be potentially dangerous for the birds.”

To donate or adopt a chicken or hen visit chickenrescue.co.uk.