An Eastbourne woman is introducing the phenomenon of chicken therapy to the town.
Animal lover Karen Stewart has launched a unique social enterprise which focuses on using the birds to calm and soothe.
The mother, who has been looking after chickens for 12 years, said the idea for Fluff N Feathers came to her after she realised the positive effect they have on her.
She said, “It’s done me good, I’m bipolar, they are my therapy. If I can give that to somebody else and help them get through the day.
“Seeing people’s faces when they come and look at them. It feels like I’m doing something good.”
The plan is to hopefully visit old peoples’ homes and schools with her chicken therapy and advice on how to keep chickens, as well as taking the ladies to fetes and events.
The mother, who has a background in care, says she worked in a respite home and saw first hand the therapy benefits of using animals around people who are senile or have dementia.
The chickens also get involved in creative pursuits. Karen said, “We did chicken drawing at DC1. It was really good that was a first! Even the really good artists were finding it difficult to try and sketch them.”
Karen rescued Maisie and Daisy when they were 18 months old from a farm in Sussex. They would have been sent to the slaughter but Karen saved them and now they are living the dream, aged four.
They live in Karen’s garden with her six other chickens, eight ducks, and two giant rabbits.
Karen explained how her unusual hobby came about, “I just fancied having some chickens. You only start with a couple and they multiply!
“Then I found out about rescue ones and thought from now on I’m going to have rescues.
“They coo and talk to you. They are very intelligent, they can identify up to 200 chickens in their groups.”
Karen says rescue chickens are very resilient as they have grown up in a tough environment. But Maisie and Daisy are very friendly, they don’t peck and allow people to hold and stroke them.