No need to wait for chickens to have teeth to protect them. In Mesnil-Thomas, a village in Eure-et-Loir, Florence Dusseaux, plant-based food consultant, and Lisa Roche, night nurse, have been building a sanctuary for seven years for those they call “the great forgotten ones of the animal cause.
Named La pondation de Félicie, named after one of the first residents of the place, their association organized their annual open house operation on September 16. Something to delight Thyda, Armel, Gabriel and Loup, four brothers and sisters aged 6 to 9 who came for the occasion. Barely arrived, the small troop rushed in front of the fence of the vast shaded park, triggering the cackle of the occupants of the place. “I’m coming to the association’s website for the first time,” explains Allison, their mother. I communicated several times by email with the two managers. I’m trying to find out if it’s the right time to adopt,” she confides.
Since 2016, La pondation de Félicie has set itself the mission of offering a second life to spent hens, those destined for the slaughterhouse after having “worked” for eighteen months in an industrial farm. Because after this date, they reduce their annual production and are replaced by younger ones. A hellish cycle that the two women want to break. “They should not be considered as egg cartons, whose existence is stopped dead in the name of productivity,” laments Florence. And Lisa continues: “These hens deserve to live another four, even five years. They still lay eggs and make it possible to recycle between 120 and 150 kg of food waste per year and per animal. Above all, they quickly become pets in their own right. »
Driven by this conviction, Florence and Lisa took action. In addition to their professional activity, they acquired the status of breeders to have a fenced plot of 3,000 m2, with perches, nesting boxes, and an infirmary area to care for animals. “Some hens have damaged sides, others have malformations,” explains Lisa. We are trying to get them back on their feet, knowing that some will end their days with us. » The infrastructures are maintained with the help of volunteers, like Vincent, who occupies an apartment in town. “I come and help from time to time. It’s a way to make myself useful for a cause not necessarily known to the general public,” he admits.
Sensitive to this approach, small laying hen breeders in the region contacted Florence and Lisa so that they could collect their spent chickens free of charge. Félicie’s laying is also called to collect stray chickens on public roads. Individuals who move leaving a chicken coop in their old garden also contact the association. Virtuous behavior compared to the irresponsibility of some. “During the Covid lockdowns, with egg shortages in supermarkets, households took chickens, only to abandon them once the situation returned to normal,” notes Florence. Even today, Félicie’s laying is called upon for rescues a hundred kilometers around. “We have four roosters, including two fighting cocks. One of them is in a bad state, scalped to the bone. But they are not intended to be adopted,” explains Florence, recalling the objective of the association: the adoption of spent hens, under certain conditions! A charter and an adopter’s guide are available on the structure’s website*, stipulating in particular that the animal must live among several of its peers.
For adoption fees, La Pondation de Félicie manages to place nearly 200 spent hens with individuals each year. For his part, Alisson has almost made his choice. “I have a house with a large enough garden. I’m giving myself until the end of winter before welcoming four hens, one for each of the children,” she says, before announcing the good news to her offspring.
Recipes for success
- Followed adoptions. An interview is carried out in advance with future adopters. Advice is given and places visited to ensure that all reception conditions are met. A final update is carried out on the day the gallinaceae are deposited.
- Support requested. Each adopter or supporter is offered a membership formula which ensures the functioning and development of the association’s activity.
- Operations to raise awareness. Social networks, fairs and exhibitions linked to ecology and organic… the association raises awareness of its cause among different audiences, in particular by teaching about the unsuspected characteristics of chickens.