Northern Ireland Battery Hen Rescue
1965. Barbara Mladek
Barbara Mladek, from County Down, founded ‘Northern Ireland Battery Hen Rescue’, which over the past ten years has helped rescue over 11,000 battery hens from across Northern Ireland and provided new homes where they can live free range and to higher animal welfare standards.
Barbara, known as “Mama Hen”, spent her working life in the banking sector before buying land in the country and deciding to own chickens. After learning about the egg industry, she wanted to offer a home to ex-battery hens, and her vet put her in touch with a farmer with animals due for slaughter. She saved 34 initially, but was later told of another 70 that she had been too late to save. This made her realise she wanted to do more to re-home battery hens, and discovered that there was no rescue centre of this type in Northern Ireland. Running from her farm in Moira, ‘Northern Ireland Battery Hen Rescue’ works with battery farms across Northern Ireland to identify animals for rescue, and arranges all veterinary treatment to support their rehabilitation. Barbara also runs background checks on anyone wanting to rehome a hen, including ensuring people have legally-required flock licence numbers, and offers a 24/7 helpline giving advice to help people look after hens.
“I was really surprised and humbled when Points of Light contacted me. I do what I do for the animals and try to educate people on the realities of the egg production industry and chicken meat industry.
“I never expected to get any recognition for what I did and do as it’s very much a team effort with our small group of volunteers and of course with the people who adopt these beautiful girls and give them a chance at a life.”