SO urgent is it becoming to save countless thousands of battery hens, that even the Wigan Warriors captain is getting in on the rescue act.
A nationwide cull of chickens is set to take place in the new year, as the Government outlaws the most restrictive form of intensive farming cages.
And the deadline has made the work of those Wigan folk who have been saving hundreds of fowl from the chop, and putting them up for adoption, even more frantic.
Alison and Dane Thorpe at Lucky Hens Rescue, Ince, say they have been going into overdrive of late, not least because the farm from which they have so far rescued an incredible 2,000 birds, is also set to close in the new year, and the owner still has 1,100 livestock to get rid of one way or the other.
They were given a helping hand the other day by Warriors skipper Sean O’Loughlin.
He was introduced to one hen called Edna, named after a much-missed elderly relative of the Thorpes, who was sporting a rather natty Wigan rugby top.
Volunteers make these miniature garments because sometimes battery chickens lose their feathers.
The factory farms’ battery cages, which are due to banned at the end of the year, only have dimensions similar to an A4 piece of paper.
Sean said: “I think Alison and Dane are doing a fantastic job. The conditions these birds have to live in are horrendous, and it is good to see that the worst of the cages are being banned.
“But that makes it even more urgent to save those chickens that have been kept in them.”
Alison said: “Defra is insisting that any birds kept in barren cages be slaughtered once the cages are banned. It means we are having to do an even bigger push and get folk thinking about adopting a hen or two for their own gardens and yards pronto.
“They make great pets and you get free eggs every day too!.
“We are delighted that Sean is supporting our cause. It really helps to give it a lift.”
Anyone interested in adopting a bird for a donation, ring 01942 233375 or 0788 873 0763.
But the Thorpes aren’t alone in their mission. British Hen Welfare Trust volunteer Sophie McCoy from Standish, is also appealing to local folk to consider re-homing ex-battery hens, with her next re-homing date on December 27.
Film producer Sophie said: “This is a fantastic opportunity to start 2012 with a really enjoyable new hobby. ”
To find out more, e-mail the charity at firstname.lastname@example.org, call 01769 580310, or visit www.bhwt.org.uk.