The Farm Visits Senior Homes To Bring Joy, The Power Of Animal Therapy (Video)

Categories: Life Stories

They say that a dog is man's best friend. But for certain elderly people in the North East of England, fur has been swapped for feathers.

The lives of dozens of pensioners have been transformed thanks to a charity scheme that uses hens to counter loneliness.

From bedrooms to beauty salons, there has been an invasion of two-legged friends - with care home residents competing against each other design the best coop and bag the best bird at auction.

Their owners, who have been dubbed ‘hensioners’, are hoping that raising the chickens will improve their health and well-being. 

The HenPower project has seen dozens of elderly enthusiasts get involved in the day-to-day care of the poultry, feeding and cleaning them, and even treating them for lice.

So far, dozens of the creatures have been reared by hen lovers at eight care homes in the Gateshead area of Tyne and Wear.

One chicken convert is 78-year-old George Stewart who has lived at the Wood Green sheltered housing scheme in Gateshead for three years.

He said: ‘When I came here, I felt pretty isolated but then I used to watch the hens and it wasn’t half relaxing. It’s changed my life, to be honest.'

Such is the enthusiasm surrounding the scheme, that the ‘hensioners’ have designed their own bespoke coops, have chosen rare breeds to buy and have bid for birds at auction.

‘Hensioner’ Alan Richards, 76, said: ‘We went to the auction really just to bid for some fertile eggs.

‘But we came back with 36 eggs and 10 hens. I’ve been going to places I’ve never been to before.

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