A WOMAN who cares for thousands of hens is making sure her birds do not fall foul of the slaughterhouse.

Susie Macmillan runs Macs Farm, a family-owned organic egg farm in Ditchling.

She and her family are responsible for having re-homed about 100,000 hens after they “retire” and cannot produce a sustainable amount of eggs to run the business.

Susie said: “We have worked with animal activists and a group called Fresh Start For Hens who have helped us re-home our girls.

“I have promised these hens that they will not be killed, so when they retire we always make sure to re-home them so they can go and become ‘ladies of leisure’ in their final years.

“They are the perfect hens to be homed in someone’s back garden, and in that environment they will happily keep laying plenty of eggs.”

Hens are normally re-homed at about 72 weeks, when they become less fruitful layers.

The next batch of hens to be re-homed this month numbers about 6,000.

She said: “They are just lovely girls, they follow you around and they are so friendly and are just very happy girls.”

Despite the strong bond, Susie said the number of hens on the farm is not sustainable given the drop in egg sales.

She said: “We need to start reducing our number of hens on the farm because we have such a surplus.

“We currently give away eggs to charities that supply foodbanks, which is wonderful that we can support them, sometimes they take up to about 2,000 at a time.

“But it can cost the business up to about £4,500 a week

which is just not sustainable for us.”

Being organic, the costs for feed and upkeep are expensive for the family-run farm.

But luckily for Susie the response has been overwhelming.

She said: “We have had so many people interested.

“When we posted about it online the offers coming in, it was like one hen every minute.

“I really do love being able to look my girls in the eye and say that I will do all I can to make sure you are not going to get killed.

“They are truly wonderful.”

The family have managed to re-home about 3,500 so far.