French and UK Hen Charities Band Together
Showing the world that Brexit doesn’t have to mean abandonment. The UK based charity The British Hen Welfare Trust (BHWT) has announced that they will be combining forced with Champs Libres aux Poules (CLaP). This decision was made despite the UK’s recent departure from the EU. The two charities have come together to strengthen their mission to raise awareness of egg-laying hen welfare.
Champs Libres aux Poules (which translates to Free Fields for Hens), is a newly-formed charity. CLaP very much shares the same goals as The British Hen Welfare Trust. Each aims to improve hen welfare throughout the extensive commercial egg-laying industry. Not only do they hope to raise awareness for the conditions under which these eggs are forced to lay their eggs. But they also provide loving homes for hens that are beyond their egg playing days and would have otherwise been sent to the slaughter.
Jane Howorth’s Charities
The British Hen Welfare Trust was founded in 2005 by Jane Howorth MBE. She was inspired to pursue this passion after see a documentary detailing factory farm life. Howorth believes egg-laying hens to easily be the most under-valued animals within the commercial food chain. She intends to educate and influence the minds of day-to-day consumers on the lack of care and attention paid to egg-laying hens.
Additionally, The British Hen Welfare Trust works closely with the egg industry in Britain. Egg-laying hens are usually sent to be slaughtered at 72 weeks of age after a life of work. Both charities aim to free those hens of their fate and provide them with safe and loving homes as pets. The efforts of Howorth’s charity were instrumental in bringing about the end of battery cage farming in 2012. This tremendous success led to her being awarded an MBE in 2016. The MBE award later became a stepping stone towards the triumphant expansion of her message.
The Development of Champs Libres aux Poules
Continuing her mission against animal cruelty in the egg-laying industry, Howorth has expanded beyond the UK. Now with two charities under her wing, Howorth helped to set up Champs Libres aux Poules, based in Gers, France. France is currently the largest egg producer in Europe. Where Howorth was able to eradicate battery farms in the UK, French commercial farms can still use battery farming with flocks of up to 350 hens. Therefore, Howorth sought to extend awareness of hen welfare to a country that was in dire need of it.
Heidi Carneau, the President of Champs Libres aux Poules, was inspired to pursue a career in caring for the welfare of hens after learning of Howorth’s work in 2015. She adopted multiple hens from BHWT after moving to England, quickly becoming an avid supporter of the charity as well as a regular fundraiser. Her dedication to both funding and spreading the message of hen welfare led her to take action upon returning to her home country, turning to Howorth for advice on how to continue, resulting in the birth of Champs Libres aux Poules.
CLaP has managed to work its way into partnerships with multiple local farms in Gers. They have successfully managed to provide 5,000 hens with new homes since their work began in early 2020. Carneau hopes to continue the expansion of CLaP, beyond the 10% re-homing demographic limit they are currently working within. With the hopes of one day being able to rehome hens throughout the entirety of France. Giving hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of hens the chance of a second life beyond the confines of commercial egg-laying.