Guest post by Tamara Kenneally

Tamara Kenneally is an award-winning, animal based photographic artist living in Melbourne, Australia. Tamara is  passionately interested in animal behaviour, animal rights and animal welfare, all of which greatly influence her work.

Tamara cares for over thirty rescued hens (ex-battery and broiler) and four rescued sheep. She also has many dearly beloved, departed animals from the past locked forever in her heart.

You can see Tamara’s superb photography in this post and on her Facebook page at

Here we learn of five very different characters in Tamara’s very busy
Paul Mahony

With so many chickens living with us, we’d have to be blind if we didn’t realise chickens had different personalities, just like people. Some chickens are quiet and shy. Some chickens are in your face and loud and brash. Some chickens prefer corn to watermelon. Some prefer to sleep in the corner rather than roost at night. Chickens make firm friends with other chickens that they like and get along with, just like people. Here are some stories about some of my dearest friends.

Retro, a real sweetie

Retro, one of our ex-battery hens (a Brown Isa cross Leghorn) is a sweet chicken who never pecks or starts a fight. She can be picked up without a fuss, sits on my knee without stressing and is generally just a very chilled-out girl. She waits at the back whilst all the bossier chickens get food. Other chickens don’t pick on her; her sweet nature seems to be appreciated by the other hens. Our rooster, Super Chicken, loves her the most of all the hens. Retro chooses to sleep on perch number four of coop number two. All of our chickens choose where they are going to sleep at night, and they all have their favourite spots.


Retro – a beautiful girl indeed.


Retro may be a little quiet, but she stands tall and proud.

Willow and Boudica, sticking up for each other every day

Willow came to us after she was pulled from a pile of dead and rotting hen bodies at an ex-battery hen factory farm. She was unconscious and only now, ten months after rescue, has she started to re-grow her feathers. That’s how badly damaged her little body was. She may be small and delicate, but her personality makes up for it. Willow is the first to cause trouble. She is the first to plot an escape plan from the chicken run. She’s the first to find a way into the feed shed and she’s the first to come running when I call her name. Willow is a dominant hen, which means she fights a lot to keep her spot as “top” hen. She pecks anyone who gets in her way, everyone except Boudica.

Boudica was saved unconscious from the same pile as Willow and they recovered together. Willow was very protective of Boudica throughout their recovery period and, to this day, they sleep cuddled up to each other and call each other over when the other has found something delicious. If one accidentally wanders into coop number one to go to bed and the other is in coop number two, they will peck the tin walls between the coops all night trying to get to each other and this is why we always ensure they are together.

Willow has a very strange habit of pecking my back whenever I am crouching down to take a photograph. She does it every single time. I don’t need to ask who it is who is pecking me; I always know that it’s Willow.


Willow and Boudica happily sharing


Willow standing tall and proud, just like Retro

Rhonda the roughead

Roughead Rhonda is named that for a reason. If she was a person, she would be drinking Jim Beam and cola on the street in front of the Aldi supermarket yelling for her five kids to “get the hell back here”. She is our chicken who would get tattoos if she could. Rhonda tells everyone where to go, including us. She barges through everyone to get to food, pecks anyone who gets in her way and generally makes everyone scared of her. Rhonda is a beautiful looking chicken, a pure Rhode Island Red, who was given to us by a couple who no longer wanted chickens in their small suburban backyard. Her looks do not reflect her personality that’s for sure.


Rhonda may look like a dainty lady but looks can be deceiving.

Mrs. Gideon is relishing her freedom

Mrs. Gideon was rescued about 6 weeks ago, and now that she has tasted freedom, she wants nothing else. Mrs. Gideon is the hardest chicken to put back into the chicken run at night. She wont be enticed with watermelon, lettuce or grapes. She doesn’t care if all of the other chickens have gone or not, she just continues to scratch up dirt and dust bathe to her heart’s content. I should have called her “Freedom”.


Mrs Gideon: “I’ll just pretend I don’t hear them calling.”

Each chicken in my life makes me smile and adds a great deal of joy to every day, each for their own different reasons.

Tamara Kenneally (Edited by Paul Mahony)

Acknowledgement: Thanks to Tom Hanks in the movie “Forrest Gump” for the quotation: “My mama always said, ‘Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.'”

See also:

Saving Ester by Chantal Teague

Life with chickens: a whole new world! by Liz Dealey