Henrietta, three weeks after adoption
Delilah exploring the garden
Pollyanna in the chicken run
Josephine posing for the camera!
Delilah and Josephine playing in the snow for the first time!
the hens behind the books
The Four Little Hens books are based on the real life adventures of four ex-battery hens adopted through the British Hen Welfare Trust by the author, Heather Trefusis. Here she answers some readers' questions about the hens.
What made you want to write a book about your hens?
When we adopted them, I was so surprised at how much personality they had! They were all so different and very cheeky, funny and affectionate. I thought they would make perfect characters in a book.
Were the real life hens actually called Henrietta, Josephine, Pollyanna and Delilah?
Yes! I kept their names for the books as they really are written about them - and their individual personalities are written into each character too!
What was it like when you first adopted the hens?
When we first took them home, they were a bit scared and quite shy. But it didn't take them long to settle into their new home and they were soon strutting around our garden like they owned the place!
Which is your favourite hen?
Well I couldn’t possibly choose a favourite, as I love them all dearly. Josephine is the most affectionate though, and it’s lovely when she climbs up to sit on your lap!
Can you tell them apart?
Yes! To someone who doesn't own chickens, they probably look very similar, but they all look very different to me. Their combs and beaks are different shapes, and their feathers are slightly different colours too. Once you get to know them, they are very easy to tell apart!
What's their favourite food?
Their day-to-day food is called a Layers Crumble, which has all the nutrients they need in it. They love to eat lots of yucky things too though, like flies, beetles and spiders! And when one of them digs up a big worm in the garden, they all get very excited and chase around after it!
What's the best thing about having ex-battery hens?
Seeing them put on weight and grow new feathers is wonderful. But the best thing is watching them enjoy all the things they couldn’t do during their working life – just simple things like lying in the sunshine and pottering around the garden makes them so happy. It’s very rewarding to give such sweet creatures a happy retirement.
Do they lay lots of eggs?
Yes! As hens get older they slow down a bit, but we still get lots of eggs and make plenty of cakes and omlettes. Our family and friends love taking the eggs too, as the girls usually lay more than we can eat!
Do you have any advice for anyone adopting ex-battery hens?
You'll need to give the hens a few days to get used to their new surroundings and routine. So they need lots of patience and might need help getting in and out of the hen house at first as they won’t be used to going in when it starts to get dark and coming out again in the morning. Gentle encouragement and maybe a treat like a handful of mealworms should do the trick! There’s lots of useful information for new adopters on the British Hen Welfare Trust’s website.