AN ANIMAL welfare group from West Wickham has rescued more than 7,000 hens from slaughter.

Passive Pressure Animal Welfare Group took the hens from a free-range farm in Brighton and transported them to new homes across Bromley and north Kent.

The farmer in Brighton had asked the group to help save the hens, which are 72 weeks old and no longer producing a high yield of eggs.

It took the group six days to take the hens to their new homes, with six members using their cars and vans to transport the birds.

Jan Yarker, who founded the group nine years ago, said: “With this farm, each time the hens are close to 72 weeks we get planning to get as many as possible out.

“The rescued hens will now be able to live the rest of their lives as nature intended, dust bathing, scratching, nesting and socialising.

“However, there were still 5,000 hens that went to slaughter because we could not physically get them all out.”

Mrs Yarker, a 64-year-old mother-of-two, added: “In the intensive egg farming industry the fate of newly-born chicks is decided by their gender.

“The females either go into cruel battery cages, where they stay for 72 weeks, unable to even spread their wings, or are reared on free-range farms.

“Up to 40m male chicks a year will either be painfully gassed or minced alive for fertiliser.

“Once the hens reach 72 weeks they will be slaughtered for stock cubes or pet foods and the whole cruel process starts all over again.”