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Prisoners nurse chickens in Holloway Prison

PUBLISHED: 16:22 29 December 2011

Christine Stewart, head gardens officer at Holloway Prison, with one of the chickens

Christine Stewart, head gardens officer at Holloway Prison, with one of the chickens

Archant

Tough criminals jailed in Holloway Prison have been looking after chickens.

Inmates have been caring for 20 rescued hens since October at the women’s jail in Camden Road, Holloway.

The birds, donated by the British Hen Welfare Trust, arrived in a poor condition after living in cramped pens.

The Government says the project provides new skills and therapy for offenders who have nursed the animals back to health.

Christine Stewart, head gardens officer at Holloway Prison, said: “This is a fantastic initiative and another step forward in our work with the inmates.

“We have never kept hens so it is a steep learning curve.

“Some prisoners working in the gardens are responsible for the hens, feeding and taking care of them.

“We hope the project will have educational benefits and lead to opportunities such as an NVQ qualification in animal husbandry.”

The chickens lay around 65 free range eggs every week for meals and their waste is re-used as manure in the garden and vegetable beds.

Holloway Prison plans to expand the number of chickens to 50.

A HM Prison spokeswoman said: “The project’s aim is to provide more work opportunities for prisoners in line with government policy, teach them new skills and act as a form of therapy for those women who may struggle with more conventional prison work.

“Battery hens can arrive for re-homing in a poor physical shape. They have been kept in cramped environments under fluorescent lighting and are often short of feathers.

“The prisoners have had a significant role to play in caring for and bringing the chickens back to a healthy condition.”

The British Hen Welfare Trust is a Devon-based national charity which re-homes commercial laying hens and runs various educational projects. For more www.bhwt.org.uk.

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