A WIMBORNE woman is appealing for the public’s help in finding new homes for up to 3,000 hens destined for slaughter.

Celia Marker, 68, a self-proclaimed hen rescuer and animal charity fundraiser, is going to collect the birds from a farm in Sussex on March 19 and 20 to be taken in by kind-hearted Dorset and Hampshire residents.

This will be Celia’s sixth hen rescue in around seven years, supported by the Shoreham Rescue volunteers, and she urgently wants the public’s help as any birds not allocated by the end of the month will be sent for slaughter.

She said that the hens are Brown Warren hybrids, all aged around 80-weeks, which are free-range and organically reared, which no longer lay “commercially viable” eggs for the supermarkets because they are slightly misshapen or thin-shelled.

She said: "There are around 3,000. Initially I thought I could manage to rehome 300, but there are a lot more at the farm.”

Celia said the hens can live up to the age of seven but only lay eggs until around five years old.

“Thousands of hens are going to their deaths every week. At 80 weeks, they are normally confined to dog food factories. It would be such a waste for the hens to die.

“I think people forget that these are living creatures that we are dealing with.”

She said that prospective new hen owners are asked about their backgrounds and their knowledge on looking after chickens to ensure that anybody getting in contact is not buying them to simply kill and eat.

She says that the last rescue took place in December 2014, when over 1,000 hens were rehomed by large farms, people with small holdings and those looking to keep a few in the garden.

She also hopes that somebody who has specialist knowledge on chickens will contact her to help with the transfer of the birds to their new owners and ensure they are going to good homes.

The hens will cost £1.50 each plus a donation towards transport, which will be sold in groups of five birds or more.

For more information, contact Celia by e-mailing W.marker@sky.com or call 01425 472672.