Hi all, my name is Mel Lazenby and I live in the UK near Cambridge, where I work in the university vet school. I live with my partner Darran, our cats Henry, and my hand reared kitty Daisy, x 6 ex battery hens -Olivia, Thelma, Sophie, Maddie beak, Nora and Weeble.
x1 broiler hen, Bella
x3 frizzles, Tina, Tiffany and Toyah
X4 ex Battery Quail, itsy bitsy, tiny weeny, teensy weensy, and tiddly widdly.
I’ve been vegetarian for thirty years, and two years ago took the leap of faith into becoming vegan, and havent looked back since.
I’d had hens all my life as a child, but got back into hen keeping in 2007 and I’ve been involved in rescue since the end of the same year. I was finding it frustrating not being able to change anything for the better, and found myself being very vocal and angry, in person and on the internet, I’m much better at being proactive, than campaigning.
My girls are my whole world and I’m very protective of them, I mainly have hens with disabilities and they have stunned me with their ability to grab life by the horns, despite their problems and some of their limitations, I’m totally and utterly convinced that they associate their main carer with their rescue and rehabilitation, especially the ones who’ve needed extra tlc and have lived in the house with us. I’ve truly bonded with some in particular. My partner often says, they hear the back door open when he’s home first, and they start getting excited, as they think it’s me who,provides play time and sweeties, he then says the disappointment is palpable when they realise it’s ‘only him’ he says they look gutted. They know the colour of their sweetie bowl as well, no other bowl has this affect.
If I had to sum up their personalities to someone who has never had them before, its this; they are always so grateful, they are great fun, entertaining, naughty, mischievous, loyal and very very bright. The interaction you have with them is right up their with cats and dogs. They live every day as if it’s their last and I wish I could learn a bit of that for myself sometimes.
I always feel that i owe these girls so much for the wrong which they have suffered in their cages, so we have some simple rules: they always come first. They have the best food I can buy. As much space as I can give them, and that has to be predator proof. They get treats and lots of special veg to peck at. I make their home as interesting as I can with Ramps and bales to stand on. Their Veterinary care is paramount from my brilliant avian vet. I try to keep them in small groups of best friends with equal disabilities. I keep them spotlessly clean. Garden play time every day and endless love and cuddles. My girls are kept in an aviary, so I think it’s important that they get to run around the garden every night, so every evening we spend the time in the garden together, to keep them safe.
I find it so tragic that they are thought of as only chickens by the masses, they have enormous individual personalities, they feel pain, love and fear, they have cognitive abilities far superior to many mammals. Something has surely gone horribly wrong – from the days of teaching children ‘ the chicken went cluck’ to being totally oblivious to the mass production of hens laying cheap eggs, all of them ending up being slaughtered at just 18 months old, and to eating the meat of babies at just 35-40 days old. All in the name of profit over welfare. We all loved them as children, I wonder where has that connection been lost…
They’ve certainly enriched my life and I feel so lucky to have loved so many ❤️