The ‘Chicken Whisperer’

Emily with one of her rescue hens

Emily with one of her rescue hens - Credit: Archant

Emily Barclay from Norfolk says she can ‘tune in’ to her chickens. She talked to Rob Morris

Emily, Steve and dog Genie with the hens

Emily, Steve and dog Genie with the hens - Credit: Archant

Emily Barclay has quite an affinity with chickens and feels she can tune into their needs. She has trained as an ‘animal communicator’ and says it is possible to tap into their world - once you can drop the focus on yourself.

“I tune in almost unconsciously to the hens and seem to know what they want,” she says. “I just seem to feel what’s needed.”

Emily and her partner Steve Hunter live in a lovely old cottage in the Norfolk village of Broome with a whole range of animals, most of which are rescued, including 26 chickens, most from from Little Hen Rescue, a charity based in Norwich which has saved tens of thousands of birds from slaughter.

In addition to their ‘regular’ jobs, the couple run a dog walking and feeding business, and are also dedicated triathletes, so they have very busy lives!

The chickens are securely fenced off in about half of the garden, but seem to get on well with the couple’s various dogs and cats.

Emily says that keeping them is a great way to unwind: “When I go into their area I feel peaceful and relaxed as I watch them or potter around. They are hilarious and are a joy. They are interested in everything. The eggs are a nice bonus, but not the main reason for keeping them and not all lay.”

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She started out with just three birds and also looked after some Buff Orpingtons for friends when they went on holiday. “They were really beautiful and it felt a bit like a chicken hotel.”

She was also helped by a good friend who has kept hens for years. “She became my sort of guru. I also did lots of reading and searching the internet. We have always had very sympathetic vets who are also very supportive. Little Hen rescue is great as they have a forum where any question can be asked.”

Emily has nearly completed her course on animal communication, which includes exams. “Basically you put all your focus away from yourself and onto the animal. You can either do that face to face or have a photo of the animal. It is tapping into the essence of the animal. It’s not a two way conversation, much more getting the personality of the animal.”

Emily says her training helps her tune into all the animals she encounters. “In some ways, anyone who keeps animals has this affinity with them. Professional people like vets can be sceptical. You have to be sensitive as to who is going to be open about it and who is not. Some people like facts and figures and are quite sceptical.

“But everyone can do this communication. The really hard part is concentrating all your attention on the animal and not on yourself… and trusting what you get back.”