Champion of caged hens, Rosenallis woman Karen Rogers has made an urgent plea for volunteers to help her care for over 100 hens at her home.
Over the past two years Ms Rogers has rescued over 26,500 hens from egg farms, deemed too old by the department of agriculture and destined for slaughter, even though they were still laying eggs.
“Some of the caged hens we rescued can barely walk. It takes a while to rehabilitate them. They have hardly any feathers, they look like they are ready for the kitchen table, because they are pecked off by other hens. Some have their beaks cut at the front to stop them doing it,” she said.
Many of the egg producers keep in touch with her, letting her know when they are about to dispose of a batch of hens, while she also takes in backyard hens that are no longer wanted.
After taking a while to recover and adapt to roaming free, the hens are rehomed all around the country. Those not rehomed continue to live happily on the Roger’s farm in Meelick, Rosenallis.
Currently Karen has 124 hens and 24 ducks to care for. She is battling her own health problems to do so, having suffered five strokes.
However a fortnight ago, disaster struck when her husband Colin himself suffered a serious stroke.
While he recovers in Midlands Regional Hospital Portlaoise, Karen is struggling to cope at home.
“I try to put the hens first, I get up early to walk my dogs then I sort out the chickens and ducks. I feed them, let them out to roam and give them fresh water. It can take up to an hour and a half. The shed needs cleaning too because we haven’t been able to do it,” she said.
She is hoping volunteers can give her a few hours of help a week, so that she can continue to care for her hens.
If help comes in, she hopes to go ahead with another planned rescue operation in November.
“Even a couple of hours help a week would be great. If I can’t get help I might have to stop. It is a shame,” she said.
Call Karen at 087 9667828, or see Laois Hen Rescue on facebook for more.