Charity

Healthier Hens

Healthier Hens

Healthier Hens is a new animal welfare nonprofit searching for cost-effective interventions to reduce pain and suffering caused by bone health issues in egg-laying hens.

This charity meets the requirements to be supported by Giving What We Can as an unlisted charity — read more about our inclusion criteria.

Healthier Hens started because its founders believed that given the scale of suffering of egg-laying hens, there is still a lot of room for improving their welfare.

Unfortunately, egg-laying hens' diets today often do not contain nutrient levels optimal for the birds’ health and wellbeing — especially as the organisation found in Kenya, its country of pilot operations.

Hens experience an increase in bone-related health issues because feeds are formulated to maximise egg-laying productivity. Keel bone fractures (KBFs) are a major cause of acute and chronic pain for egg-laying hens across all housing systems and can affect more than 90% of birds on commercial farms. These fractures often take 6 to 8 weeks or even longer to heal. Since they remain untreated, hens can develop depression-like mental states and experience other welfare issues such as bumblefoot or poor feather coverage.

To solve this unnoticed and neglected issue of poor hen welfare from osteoporosis and bone fractures, we are looking for a way to ensure that hens kept commercially and cage-free are given optimal levels of calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin D3 — nutrients key for bone development and health.

Healthier Hens' current goals are to:

  • Strengthen its research to test the direct link between feed fortification and hen welfare.
  • Promote farmers' and governments' awareness of KBFs and associated hen welfare outcomes.

To achieve this, Healthier Hens will conduct a baseline study on KBF prevalence in Kenya and measure the direct efficacy of dietary interventions on KBFs via pilot trials.

It intends to deploy its feed fortification intervention through two main phases: producer buy-in and government buy-in. Its research efforts (pilots and trials) will aid both phases as a means to show that hen welfare can be improved via dietary interventions.

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