THE owners of a farm shop have given 6,000 chickens that were set to be slaughtered the best Christmas present possible – new homes.

Emma and Ben Mosey have been in a flap over the past few weeks because their egg laying hens were due to go for slaughter – and they were determined to find an alternative.

After an appeal offering them free to good homes through their business, Minskip Farm Shop, near Ripon, the free range chickens’ futures are now secure after dozens of people came forward to take the poultry off their hands.

Mrs Mosey said: ”It’s been astonishing really. We were determined the girls should not go for slaughter – their egg laying is not consistent after a certain age, but they still produce lovely fresh eggs.

“We wanted to make sure they went to nice homes, so a wildlife sanctuary has come forward, a farmer is taking 5,000, and lots and lots of individual people are taking anything from four to 50.”

She added: “We only took over the business last January, so it has been a steep learning curve for us.

“Normally after 72 weeks the chickens go for slaughter, but there’s still so much more life, and eggs, in our gorgeous girls.

“We believe there is life beyond the farm, and that every back garden should have a few of these wonderful creatures.”

The shop, which sells about 1,000 eggs a day, was presented with the Free Range Egg Producers Retailer of the Year Award for the quality of their eggs. In Britain about 34 million eggs are consumed a day.

What the couple had not taken into account is that they would be carrying out their large-scale rehoming scheme for their free range flock in the run up to Christmas. They are due to be collected over the weekend from December 16.

“As this is the busiest time of the year,” said Mrs Mosey.

“But it will be wonderful to see them going to good homes, and I think they will be well looked after.”

Once their flock has gone, the Mosey’s will be taking on new chickens for next year and because the rehoming has been such a success they’re hoping to repeat the same procedure.

It won’t be until about April in 2020 that the next flock of chickens would be ready to go to pastures new, but the couple believe it’s such a worthwhile approach they’re keen to carry on.