Save hens from French slaughterhouses – and get free eggs in return

Company says the chickens it rescues can help recycle household waste

Can you give a chicken a new life?
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A man from north-west France has set up a firm to help people recycle while getting fresh eggs by saving hens destined for the slaughterhouse.

Poule pour Tous was set up in Nantes, Loire-Atlantique, in 2017 to rescue poultry from the slaughterhouse.

Founder Thomas Dano had been horrified to discover that perfectly healthy hens were being sent there after just a year of laying eggs due to strict hygiene, sanitary and regulatory frameworks. 

Regulations require that chicken coops are washed entirely at least once a year, and since many farms do not have anywhere to keep their hens during that time, they often send their hens to an abattoir. 

For €10 or less, Mr Dano is giving people a chance to extend the lives of these hens – and benefit from their company.

Chickens are “terrific recyclers”, he said, capable of disposing of around 130kg of household waste a year, and can potentially lay up to 1,000 eggs over the course of their life. And they do not require a huge financial investment. 

“Adopting a chicken is firstly a good deed as you are rescuing them from death. You can also get eggs from them, they can help you start compost, they will recycle lots of household waste. They are purely beneficial,” said Mr Dano. 

As the chickens come from professional farmers, they are already vaccinated and require no administrative work. They can live for up to 10 years. 

Mr Dano originally set up Poule pour Tous as an association before restructuring it as a company in 2020. 

Read more: How to keep hens as part of a self-sufficient life in France

He only works with chickens that are “bio, plein air or label,” meaning non-battery farm chickens. This is partly because battery chickens are often too fragile to acclimatise to outside life and because Mr Dano does not want to contribute to what he sees as an exploitative industry. 

You can adopt chickens from anywhere in France, either by having them delivered or by collecting them in person. Supply can be irregular, so it is best to reserve online. 

Each hen needs at least 5m² of outside space, a chicken feeder with approximately 150 g of cereal a day, and clean water, changed on a daily basis. 

They also need a coop, which usually costs between €150 and €250, although Mr Dano pointed out that you can build your own for a lot cheaper, with wooden pallets for example. 

Coops should be raised off the ground to offer shade and protect them from humidity. 

Once the feeders, coop and water troughs have been bought, it should cost around €30 a year to feed each chicken. 

In terms of time investment, it takes around five minutes a day to change their food and water. In addition, the coop needs to be cleaned weekly or monthly. 

Chickens are friendly with most other animals. 

“With cats, there is no risk. With dogs, it depends how you raised them but the chickens will not have problems with a dog,” said Mr Dano. 

When asked if they can be considered pets, he answered: “That is a big question. Our customers sometimes send us photos of their chickens in the kitchen or sitting on the sofa, so people definitely consider them to be.

“I think they need to be outside as they are extremely curious, and they are smarter than people think. They quickly understand that a pair of big legs often means food, so it is better to befriend humans,” he added. 

A surprising advantage is that chickens also eat bugs and insects, including wasps and hornets. This is particularly good news for beekeepers as chickens eat Asian hornets, which can present a real danger to beehives. 

For more information, visit the Poule pour Tous website, here.