Rescue; Don't Hatch!

Rescue, don't hatch!


Here at Wing and a Prayer Henquarters we spend a lot of time responding to requests to rehome both hens and cockerels resulting from hatching projects. Many chicks from these projects do not have homes to go to after the fun of the hatching is over. Often there are many male chicks and cockerels who are very hard to find homes for. Lovely though they are, cockerels can't always live in groups like females can (especially if there are girls around) and they can be noisy and upset neighbours. As a result, every animal rescue is filled with unwanted cockerels.

Contrary to popular belief, companies who provide eggs for hatching projects rarely take them back, and chickens cannot go and live in commercial farms due to strict biosecurity measures. They often end up the responsibility of rescue charities like ours...if they are lucky.

Even when homes are secured for every hatchling, including males, these projects are still unnatural and cruel. Did you know chicks can hear sounds through the shell and communicate with their mother before hatching? Chickens are gregarious animals and have complex social bonds. The mother hen is extremely vigilant in looking after her eggs and turns them up to 30 times a day. If this isn't done properly the developing organs can stick to the sides of the shell causing deformities and death. Hatchings who emerge at the weekend or during busy times in environments whose main focus is education or nursing care can become dehydrated and cold when they are hatched without the attentive care of their mother.

Instead, Wing and A Prayer actively support community projects which teach people about responsible animal husbandry, promote animal welfare and biodiversity.

We have been thrilled to support several school projects where children have been learning about how to care for their own flock of rescue hens. We are very happy to provide hens and ongoing advice and support as well as a starter pack of food and supplies for these projects. Please send an enquiry form (below) if you wish to discuss. In the meantime, see below to read about some of the projects we have already supported.

We are now delighted to be able to offer GRANT FUNDING to assist with the set up of worthy community projects in order to support ethical projects rather than hatching.

Edinburgh Academy Chicken Committee

This whole project started in early Spring 2019 with the idea from Joseph in Primary 5 to have chickens at the school.
We gathered old wood from a family not using it and I designed the coop you see there as a mash-up of nice elements I saw online combined with the materials I had to work with!  We set up a Chicken Committee that is run by pupils (with only minimum input from myself), and Wing and a Prayer helped us in May last year with our first rescue hens.  We had a few mishaps (three escaped from the original Harris fencing "outdoor" pen and the one that stayed inside survived!), but we are learning more and more with each new experience and the pupils take the responsibility seriously and love the feeling that they are important to the welfare of these lovely animals.  The Primary 5s now look after the hens at morning break and the Primary 6s do lunch break, and I make sure the pen is secure overnight.  I have built a new "chicken tractor" that is movable and will provide access to fresh grass daily.

Applecross Primary School, Highlands

 4 hens have arrived today. Thank you so much to Linda and Sue from Wing and a prayer Hen Rescue. Hens happily went into their hoose to-nicht. One egg unner the dust-bath. I have assumed that these hens only speak Scots... Children trying to consider which one will be named after Judith Fish MBE.

Kirriemuir Day Centre, Angus

Wing and a Prayer Hen Rescue SCIO very kindly donated 4 hens to Kirriemuir Day Centre. We only received the hens on Wednesday 30th June and already they have been a great success, there was great excitement waiting for them to arrive and we did a draw to choose the names.  This has sparked off childhood memories, memories of days on working farms. The members have enjoyed going out to the garden to check up on the hens and to collect the eggs, even having a hold of them.



Please tell us about your project/community group. This can be presented in any format; words, photographs, videos, sketches, plans…or a combination of any of them. We want to get an idea of who is involved, what you are trying to achieve and why, how long your group has been established. We would love to see contributions from the entire group (photographs, testimonials, etc). If your project is a community group, please tell us where you intend to keep your hens and who will look after them, including your plans for holiday cover.



Keeping hens involves a responsibility for their welfare for their entire lives. Rescue hens thrive given the correct care, but they do require regular worming, a varied diet and the occasional trip to the vet.  They usually lay well once they have settled after their rescue, but this is not guaranteed. Tell us how your group project plan to fund the ongoing costs, including unexpected expenses such as vet’s bills. For example, are you applying for other grants, regular fundraising events or do you have a regular funding source?


Please tell us about your experience with poultry. If you have no experience that is fine, but we would want to know more about how you intend to gain the knowledge and ongoing support required. 

Tell us about your intended accommodation. Hens need access to grass and free ranging space to enrich their lives and diet. They need areas to dustbathe, sunbathe and perch. They are very vulnerable to predators such as foxes or badgers, so will need a very secure coop and run for overnight. 



Part of our grant funding involves entering a contract whereby you agree to send us updates about your project. This can be in a format of your choosing, but we would love to see photographs, testimonials and videos which we can share on our website. Please bear this in mind when submitting images if your project includes children or vulnerable people. Our aim is to encourage similar projects with rescue hens instead of hatching projects which are short-lived and unethical. 

We would like to share on our website how is your project going. What have you learned/enjoyed/found difficult? What would be your advice for others considering this venture?  Has your project evolved as planned? What would you do differently and what would be your advice for others considering a similar venture? 


Please give us details about what you would like our grant to fund. Please give as much information as possible in this section. Perhaps you wish to expand or improve your existing accommodation? If it is for initial set up costs to purchase equipment, please give details of the equipment required and why. 


We are open to applications twice a year and will fund up to five projects per year. Funding grants are up to £500, but we may decide to offer increased funding for very worthy projects or partial funding in order to offer support to as many as possible. We will acknowledge your application within seven days and offer a decision within three months.

If your application is successful, we will ask you to send us two updates in the first year of your project and one further update in the following twelve months.


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If you would like to get in touch with us for any reason then please fill in our contact form or message us via our Facebook page.

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