Hens are enriching, intelligent birds – and make fantastic pets.
Imagine if your dog could drive you to work, or your cat could make you a cup of tea in the morning. Hens aren’t quite that intelligent, but they are a pet with some serious benefits, a pet over and above most, in fact in a league of their own … for what other pet can offer its owner fresh eggs for breakfast?!
An explosion in popularity
Another fact that goes against the grain is that these feathered friends aren’t the bird brains some would make out, and just to prove a point their popularity has exploded in recent years to the extent that the British Hen Welfare Trust (BHWT) has now re-homed more than 620,000 of them since it was founded in 2005.
22,410 of these hens found themselves a free range retirement in Great Totham, which is one of more than 30 pop-up re-homing points around the UK.
Interestingly ex-commercial hens in particular make wonderful pets for first time chicken owners. They are a relatively inexpensive pet once their initial needs have been catered for, they’re incredibly grateful (well you would be if the alternative was slaughter, wouldn’t you?), they all develop their own personalities and are very therapeutic to have around. They’re often described as cats and dogs with feathers. They also come with the full gambit of vaccinations having been through the rigorous commercial flock regulations.
Essex co-ordinator, Jean Gill, said: “Who could imagine just how wonderful it is to cuddle a chicken? It’s one of life’s simple pleasures spending time in the garden with your girls. They happily greet you with their comical run and endearing song and it doesn’t take long before there is a hen in your arms, another perched on your shoulder and the others jostling at your feet to get the best fuss! It’s not only the hens lives improving after rehoming day!”
‘End 0f lay’ hens
The feathered ladies re-homed by the BHWT are around 18 months old when they come out of their cages and are classed as ‘end of lay’ hens; however, if fed properly they will generally carry on laying. Most of the hens saved from slaughter by the charity have never seen daylight and never stood on soft grass, nor scratched for bugs and slugs, something purebred chickens take for granted.
You’d be hard pressed to find a greater feeling than bringing home an ex-commercial hen and watching her find her way around her new home, knowing that just a few hours ago she had never seen the big outdoors.
This isn’t a sentiment which dies down after a few days. Some hens can be a bit threadbare in the feather department and each time you spot a new feather growing back, or your girls do something funny for the first time you’ll be reminded of just what you’ve given them – the chance to free range, and enjoy life.
Enhancing people’s wellbeing
Even more inspiring is the fact that one good deed leads to another and it’s not just about what you’ve given the girls – it’s just as much about what they can do for you. Keeping hens gives people focus and, often, a reason to get up in the morning.
During a recent study conducted by Occupational Therapist Lianne Peters into how ex-commercial hens can enhance people’s wellbeing, 94% of people reported a sense of pride in seeing their hens flourish as the most common effect on their wellbeing.
One participant said: “When I become depressed and sad, it helps to focus on the hens and rooster and know they rely on me to feed and care for them on a daily basis. In a way they have replaced the gap left in my life by my husband’s passing. Doctor has prescribed anti-depressants, but these girls are better than Prozac and no nasty side effects!”
Lianne is hoping to promote the value of hens as therapy through her work, as it has long been acknowledged that pet ownership encourages responsibility and self-esteem.
The BHWT has regular contact with its supporters and encourages them to share their tales of hen happiness, including how much joy these little creatures have brought to their lives.
One supporter, who adores his hens, told us about the benefits of having hens as pets: “I suffer from mental health disease, and being responsible for looking after these girls, and having beautiful eggs as a bonus, has turned my world around. This is ‘their’ time, and they will live a full, free and happy life, after all they have given us.”
Pet of the Year
If you’re not yet convinced of the life enriching properties of hens, to further cement their popularity as pets, a clever hen named ‘Woof’ was recently voted Pet of the Year in a regional newspaper competition. It might not be an Oscar or a Nobel Prize, but it is just as incredible in the hen world because ‘Woof’ beat countless cuddly cats and dogs to be crowned ‘pet’ of the year. And we want more hens winning competitions just like this all over the country.
British Hen Welfare Trust (BHWT)
However, the charity is not content with re-homing tens of thousands of hens each year, another incredibly important offshoot of its work is the drive to improve veterinary support when it comes to treating chickens. All too often distressed hen keepers have called the BHWT Advice Line because their vet has suggested putting their hen to sleep, when she has a problem which is entirely treatable.
As the British Veterinary Association’s Charity of the Year in 2015/16 the charity took great strides towards promoting hens as pets securing articles in the veterinary press highlighting common hen ailments and how to treat them. It was its work that, in part too, led to the establishment of The Chicken Vet, a service offering vets the opportunity to attend courses designed to increase knowledge of backyard hens. As a result an increasing number of specialist Associated Practices are now available to hen owners seeking treatment.
Ultimately, the British Hen Welfare Trust is working towards the day when everyone views hens as pets, not just livestock, and sees them for the life enriching, intelligent birds they can be. This is exactly why we save hens from slaughter, and enjoy watching them become much-loved family members.
So go on, think about giving some hens a happy home and start reaping the rewards immediately – there are thousands of hens sat patiently waiting in their cages, hoping that you will.
Did you know it’s estimated there are around 19 million families with children living in the UK? Plus, one in every two households owns a pet of some form. From dogs to reptiles, and cats to rodents, there are a considerable number of different options when it comes to finding the perfect pet for your family. Here are some of the greatest benefits of introducing a furry friend into your child’s life.
One of the biggest benefits of bringing a pet into the family is the push to get up and active. This isn’t just the case with dogs either; rabbits, cats, and many other pets love to run around and could help encourage your child to get up and active as they play together. In the long run, a more active lifestyle will have a whole host of benefits, including a healthier heart and improved immune system.
Sense of responsibility
If you have ever owned a pet, then you may remember all the responsibility that comes with your new friend. Having a companion means you need to plan for days out or any holidays, as well as working in a social life around looking after your pet. These are all skills that your child will be able to practise and develop as they learn the work that goes into having a pet.
Boosted brain power
It has been shown that stroking a pet can release a whole host of endorphins – a chemical that helps our brains to feel happy. Although we may sometimes think children don’t have as much stress, many factors in life can lead youngsters to get worked up. However, having a pet there can be one of the easiest ways to help children relax, unwind, and feel better all around. Pets can also help children mature emotionally as they understand how to prioritise their new pet’s requirements before their own.
Learning life lessons
The world is such a big and wonderful place it can be troublesome trying to prepare your child for whatever life throws their way. By bringing a pet into the family, your new addition will help to do some of the work for you. Children will soon learn how much their new friend relies on them, as well as picking up key empathy skills. These are values your child will be able to use for the rest of their lives.
These are just a few pointers on how a small addition to the family home can make a huge difference. If you would like to find out more information, including the best types of pets and how to prepare, then be sure to check out Direct Line’s guide to the benefits of pets for kids for plenty more tips and advice. It might soon be time to welcome home a new addition!
Southend-on-Sea Borough Council wants to better understand its residents’ attitudes, behaviours and motivations relating to physical activity. The findings of this survey will be used to help inform Southend-on-Sea Borough Council’s future plans to increase levels of participation in physical activity.
The survey is open to everyone over the age of 16 whether you currently take part in physical activities or not. It will only take you a few minutes to complete the survey and simply by taking part you could win £100 or £50 by being entered in to a random prize draw.
On Friday 16th March 2018, I will be starting the Ten Day Total Reset detox programme. I will be having 3 colonic hydrotherapy sessions and living on green juice during that time. I have been told it will be tough but that I will definitely feel the benefits.
And so this review will consist of a daily blog about my treatments and how I’m feeling. And I understand that some days I’m likely to feel like s**t!
Monday evening, 12th March. Claire called. I need to start getting my body ready to begin the detox. There are four main things I need to STOP taking right now:
Sugar. Not a problem for me. I have very little refined sugar. Caffeine: I’ll miss my morning cuppas but I normally only have a couple with caffeine and then go decaffeinated. Wheat: A little bit more challenging. I normally eat sourdough or low GI breads, but they are still wheat so lunch will have to be reconfigured. Dairy: That’s more of a challenge. I drink goat’s milk, love Greek yoghurt and I’m quite addicted to cheese.
Don’t tell anyone. I’ve been quite good, but did have a little bit of cow’s milk in my decaf coffee this morning because I was at an event, and I’ve dolloped yoghurt on desserts a couple of times on auto-pilot!
Friday 16th March
Claire is due to arrive before 10am with my first detox juice, and I am booked in for my first colonic treatment at 11:15am. Update to follow!
Well, here goes – I am about to reset my life. Well, my health and wellbeing anyway!
Ann-Marie Marshall of Optimal Health & Wellness in Westcliff specialises in Colon Hydrotherapy, Food IntoleraceTesting and Nutritional Advice. Claire Brooks of plant-based health hub Conscious Kitchen in Sutton Road, Southend is a trained Dietician who is passionate about gut health. Together, these lovely ladies (who both advertise in the Healthy Life Essex directories of course!) have devised a Ten Day Total Reset detox programme.
So, starting this Friday and over the course of 10 days, I will have 3 colonics and my diet will consist only of green juices provided by Claire!
I had already met Claire at her lovely little grab-and-go health hub in Sutton Road and was impressed with her holistic approach not just to food, but to the bigger picture of life, hence Conscious Kitchen. Then Ann-Marie invited me to visit her new clinic in London Road, Westcliff which, I must say, is delightful. We chatted for ages and then she mentioned she and Claire were about to introduce a new detox plan and they were looking for volunteers to trial it.
“What are you looking for in the volunteers?” I innocently asked.
“Ideally, someone who has health issues, generally just feels unwell and/or weight issues,” explained Ann-Marie.
“Oh, I would have volunteered as a reviewer,” I said, unaware that I was digging myself a big hole, “But I haven’t got weight issues and I’m quite healthy, so that probably wouldn’t help you.”
But Ann-Marie was not to be deterred. “Oh, that’s fine if you want to be a guinea pig and do a review. You will definitely notice the difference even if you haven’t got any major problems at the moment.”
And so I’m a Ten Day Total Reset Detox Guinea Pig!!
Once Ann-Marie knew I was committed, she explained in more detail how it would work. And she stressed that it would be tough. Very tough!!
I am going to do a daily blog, which you will be able to follow here. But first, let me just tell you a little bit about me.
I will be 68 this year, but guess I’m lucky enough to be fitter and healthier than many women half my age. I’m not overweight although I could do with a bit of toning, I eat fairly well, don’t smoke and don’t take any prescribed medication – which is probably quite unusual for someone my age. I have got cranky feet due to bunions, but that’s physical; and my skin can be rather prone to flaring up. At the moment, I have a persistent little red spot on my chest. It would be nice if that disappears before it is warm enough to actually bare a bit more flesh! But hey, I appreciate I’m pretty lucky.
So I am committed to this challenge: but actually, it is quite a challenge for Ann-Marie and Claire too as I’m expecting them to make me feel absolutely brilliant!
SECE Mind and Southend United Football Club are coming together to promote fitness and positive mental health…
With the help of our charity partners, Arthur J Gallager, we are excited to bring you a new team building squat challenge!
Can your team sit on all 12,000 seats in Southend United Football Ground? What strategy will your team adopt to Beat the Seats?
This squat challenge requires team entries (MIN. 4 – MAX. 20 PEOPLE ) and your challenge will be as a team to “squat” on as many seats in the football ground as possible. The event will run from 9am until 5pm, with a lead person from each team helping throughout the day, but team members can come along and take their turn to “ squat” any time during the day. £5 per person entry fee, with proceeds to SECE Mind and we would love it if teams could raise sponsorship too! Spectators are welcome on the day.
We have a training plan to share with you, kindly devised by Totality Health & Fitness, which team members need to start no later than 22nd March!
Please spread the word about this super team challenge – the more teams that take on the day the more fun we will have!
Oh, I do love a rainbow – and these little beauties were no exception. But not only are they beautiful, they are good for you too.
Bryony recently added a listing to the Health Foods and Supplement Directory and I was intrigued by these lovely little jars. A was delighted when Bryony offered to send me a sample to review. The little 20g sample pot arrived a few days later. It was so pretty, I just wanted to leave it on my desk and admire it!
This is a tiny jar, and yet it contains 14 varieties of raw, dehydrated and powdered fruit and veg, and even an edible flower, within the colourful layers, all detailed on the little attached leaflet.
This little powerhouse contained within its eight colourful layers:
PINK: beetroot and orange
BLUE: cornflower and spirulina
GREEN: kale and spinach
YELLOW: pepper and lemon
ORANGE: pepper and carrot
RED: strawberry and tomato
The instructions suggest adding 1 heaped teaspoon to a smoothie (it is often referred to as an essential smoothie sidekick), porridge, raw desserts, pancakes and baking recipes. Bryony also told me that many people stir one or two teaspoons in to a glass of warm, cloudy apple juice.
When I finally opened the jar, there was another surprise: three little herbal tea bags had been used as ‘packaging’ to keep the layers in place during transit. Bryony explained that for local fairs she’ll often use popcorn instead. She is a big fan of zero-waste and plastic free, so she uses all natural, recyclable, reusable or compostable materials in her products.
Now I must admit, I was a little concerned that my love affair with this product might come to an abrupt end when I tried it as recommended. But I was so wrong. The flavour was amazing. Bryony has skillfully blended her products so that the natural sweetness shines through without any one product overiding the flavours. I certainly couldn’t taste kale or spinach in my porridge! It’s a little bit difficult to describe the flavour, but think perhaps a nice glass of red wine – without the alcohol of course.
If you or the kids are struggling to get your 5-a-day, this is definitely a good solution. But even if you are good with your fresh veggies, think of all the exciting things you could do to add a little bit more goodness, flavour and colour to your meals, snacks, baking and smoothies.
But one comment I feel I must make: don’t buy a 20g pot, unless you want to keep it permanently as a decoration. Go straight for the 100g or 150g options. You won’t regret it!
[Healthy Life Essex does not charge any fees or receive commissions for reviewing products or services, but may receive the products or services free of charge. Reviews are always based on the reviewers experieince.]
8th March is World Kidney Day 2018, an annual global awareness and education event. This year’s theme is:
Kidney Disease and Women’s Health
Why women’s health specifically? Because kidney disease affects more women than men – and there is no cure.
But we don’t really hear a great deal about kidneys. What exactly do they do? Can we function without them?
Kidneys are essential to our health and have the following main functions:
They get rid of excess water and toxins
Regulate blood pressure
Make red blood cells
Keep bones strong by activating vitamin D
Kidney disease is serious; kidney failure can be fatal. Changes in diet and lifestyle can help slow down and prevent any further damage, but early diagnosis and prompt treatment are essential.
So what causes kidney disease?
Many people think that excess alcohol causes kidney disease. That can certainly be a factor, but there many other reasons. And some people are at risk because of factors beyond their control, for example:
If there is a family history of kidney disease
If people have Black, Asian or minority ethnic backgrounds
Anyone with diabetes, high blood pressure and/or cardiovascular diseaseisat risk of developing kidney disease.
As with any major disease, lifestyle is a major factor: Do you have a healthy diet? Are you drinking enough water? Are you getting enough exercise and fresh air?
But there is another elephant in the room:
Overuse of over-the-counter (OTC) non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as Ibuprofen, can cause kidney damage and disease. A study published in December 2017 stated that NSAIDs are the biggest cause of drug-induced kidney disease.
Please don’t be a painkiller popper. Think of other ways to control your pain if you can, such as acupuncture, yoga, Tai Chi and /or other complementary therapies. (See our Complementary Therapists in Essex directory to find therapists near you.)