WHEN Ella Griffiths learned about chickens being mistreated in battery farms she wanted to do something to help.
Then only seven years old, Ella, from Sompting Road, Lancing, decided she wanted to give the chickens a better quality of life in her back garden.
The North Lancing Primary School student learned about the process of re-homing rescued chickens and decided to pick the birds, from a farm in Chichester, which appeared to be the least healthy, because she felt those were the ones most in need.
Now, four years later, the animals are in rude health, having re-grown their feathers and become used to living outdoors with plenty of room to roam.
Currently, 11-year-old Ella and her family have 13 chickens, with the animals having a big role in their daily life.
Her mother, Nina Griffiths, said she was proud of her daughter and how she had cared for the birds.
Nina, 46, said: “She heard about chickens that weren’t being looked after and it haunted her.
“She feels a great affinity for animals, which is why she really wanted to do something.
“She enquired about rescuing chickens and we took about eight.
“They arrived in a cardboard box, about three times bigger than what they’d lived in before.
“Ella helped design their hutch and had to help them learn how to feed, but they learned.
“I remember the first time they walked out into the sunshine and spread their wings. They had never been able to do that before. It was so moving.”
Each morning, after she eats her breakfast, Ella goes out to the birds to feed them and talk to them before going to school.
Nina added: “The first thing she does after breakfast is talk to them and makes sure they’re ok.
“She just understands them and understands what they need. I’m very proud. She’s a very, very kind, considerate girl.”
The birds lay around five eggs a day, which the family both eat and give to friends and family.
One of the eggs produced was so large – at close to the size of a tennis ball – the family had joked about it potentially being a world record.
The last bird from the first batch of chickens died recently, but the most recent batch are already in good health.
Because it was made illegal to battery farm chickens in January this year, the family got their last chickens in September last year.
Nina added: “They’re so tame, they’re just like pets. They’ll go and sit on Ella’s knee.”