REAL LIFE

Happy Hens Club

This NSW woman helps hens for a living!
Catherine Smith

Catherine Smith, 33, Ettalong Beach, NSW

Turning to my friend, Sharron, I couldn’t believe what I’d just seen. ‘We have to do something,’ I said. We’d just watched a documentary about animals in factory farms.


As a passionate vegan, I already knew about the horrors of the egg industry. But it was hard to watch as mistreated hens were stuffed into tiny cages before being sent to the slaughterhouse. So the next day I phoned a local egg farm to ask about their ex-battery hens.


‘Have you ever sold any rather than killing them?’ I asked eagerly. After a lengthy discussion, I convinced the worker to let me buy six hens. ‘We’ll be able to find homes for these girls in no time,’ Sharron smiled.

Maddie the rescue hen
Maddie the rescue hen (Credit: Catherine Smith)

When we got home, the birds were in a state. They were stressed, missing feathers and had all been de-beaked. But they quickly came out of their shells. It was amazing to watch as the old girls discovered they could stretch their wings. Some had never even felt sunshine on their bodies.


Sharron and I went back to collect ten more the following week. After we rehomed them, we returned to the farm to rescue 350 more.


‘We’re going to need a bigger yard,’ I joked to my hubby, David, 32. So we decided to rent more land for the hens while they waited for their forever homes.

Me with Maddie the hen
Me with Maddie the hen (Credit: Catherine Smith)

Since then, my charity, NSW Hen Rescue, has continued to grow and we’ve managed to rehome over 1650 hens.

Before they’re adopted out, we make sure each hen is treated for lice and worms and we check for any ongoing issues. Any bird with special needs stays with us, including Frida and my best friend, Maddie. She was rescued from the side of the road after falling from a slaughterhouse truck. But now she’s a plucky little girl.


It’s a full time job caring for so many birds, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m thrilled I was able to take them under my wing!

As published in Issue 47 of that’s life! – November 24, 2016.

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