Acquired: Rescue / shelter group
Posted Oct 01, 2015
We took on 5 hens to live in our medium-sized suburban backyard by a friend who worked in animal rescue and they became much loved members of our family. They were exceedingly happy to go about their daily business with as much or as little interaction with me as I wanted. They also had their own special personalities, some were very cuddly and loved to sit on my lap and be stroked, some liked to greet me at the gate and follow me around, others were a bit more bossy when I went to collect their eggs!
The only real drawback to owning hens is that you do really need to have excellent housing built that you can lock at night to protect them at night from predators (Even if you're in suburbia: local cats can be a major issue). They'll also make a big mess in their hutches that you need to regularly clean. (The happier your hens feel, the more they lay as well, so consulting one of the many books or websites about keeping hens is a must!)
My #1 advice to those considering backyard hens however, is to contact local egg suppliers and rescue organisations to source them. Although hens have a lifespan of around 8 years and will lay for the majority of that, most commercial laying hens are cruelly culled after only 1 year. Luckily, many farms will offer them free to anyone who would like to adopt them. My girls were hens rescued from a situation like this, and of course laid less in their older years, but to be honest, while they were young, we couldn't physically keep up with the amount of eggs they were laying...and by the time they were older, they had become such friendly, loved pets we didn't mind that we needed to buy supermarket eggs again.