Hens under “house arrest” in the Mearns are getting the benefit of a little affection while on lockdown.
The birds have been cooped up at the farm in Stonehaven since December 6 when an avian flu prevention zone was put in place by the Department
for Environment Food and Rural Affairs.
The zone is in place until February 28 but that does not stop hen keeper Jill Sykes visiting her girls for a cuddle.
Jill said: “People often don’t realise how tame these birds are, and we just love seeing pictures of happy hen hugs once they’ve become much-loved family members.
“We have one hen that is like a dog and follows you everywhere and likes the attention.
“Another is not as friendly and is quite nervous.”
Jill works on behalf of the British Hen Welfare Trust to find homes for hens that would otherwise be facing death.
She has 10 rescue hens and one cockerel staying on her farm.
Jill added: “They are rescued from a factory where they have been egg-laying machines, but they are due to be killed at 18 months.
“They all still lay eggs but not to the industrial standard.
“The last time we went to the factory we rescued about 600 hens and brought them back here.
“They were re-homed to about 50 families in the area.
“It is mainly people living in the countryside but some people do have a couple in the city.”
The British Hen Welfare Trust was started in 2005 and has a passionate supporter base, and has found homes for more than 500,000 hens.
As well as finding homes for thousands of hens, the charity also educates the public on how they can make a difference to hen welfare through their shopping basket and eating habits.
A 30-day “prevention zone” was established on December 6 after the highly-pathogenic H5N8 strain of avian influenza was found in poultry and wild birds across Europe.
Defra has extended the order until February 28 after several cases were confirmed in the UK.
It requires poultry and other captive birds to be kept indoors, or “appropriate practical steps” must be taken to keep them separate from wild birds.