A CHARITY is hoping hundreds of happy hens will be leaping into new homes this February.

This weekend, the British Hen Welfare Trust is hoping hens will get a free-range retirement in Essex as it hosts a collection in Great Totham where people can adopt their own flock of ex-battery hens and let them live out their days in the bottom of the garden.

The charity rehomes laying hens once they reach 18 months old and are no longer deemed commercially viable.

The charity collects the hens from farms and works with a network of volunteers to find suitable retirement homes for thousands of hens who would otherwise be destined for slaughter.

Founder Jane Howorth said: “When I started this charity, it was all about hens and improving their lives and overall welfare standards.

“While hen welfare is still at the heart of all that we do, over time we’ve started to see the real difference that hens are making to people’s lives too.

“There’s something so special about these birds, and more and more we’re gathering evidence about how they are helping to improve people’s mental health, giving people more confidence and helping people learn and develop new skills.

“These hens really are remarkable little animals and I would urge anyone who can to give keeping hens a try.

“The ex-commercial hens we rehome are particularly sweet and friendly, so we hope the people of Essex will give these girls a leap year to remember by offering them the chance to enjoy a free-range retirement.”

The charity has to date rehomed more than 750,000 hens across the country to date.

If you’d like to rehome a flock of your own, a rehoming is taking place in Great Totham on Saturday, February 22.

To book, register your details at www.bhwt.org.uk/register and then call Hen Central on 01884 860084.