We have had rescue Leghorns several times; though they are a commercially raised breed, they adapt very well to free range life, and soon become much happier. Once they make themselves at home, they usually become the more dominant birds of the flock and occupy a high place in the pecking order. Chickens who were almost completely plucked grow feathers, chickens with extra long toenails scratch away and give themselves a natural manicure, and pretty soon they settle into a regular laying routine, though many will not lay every day anymore.
It is of no consequence to us, however; we are happy with whatever we can get. Our chickens eat a low-cost diet of scraps and whatever they can find in the garden, and only get a modest supplemental portion of commercial feed, so our little backyard operation doesn’t have to be super efficient; we have some chickens and some eggs, and that is enough.
Chickens are not generally the cuddliest of pets, but my kids won’t take no for an answer. Above you can see a photo of a rescue hen getting tamed. She looks pretty annoyed, I think, but knows better than to protest.
Watching our chickens happily dig around in the yard is one of my most satisfying everyday experiences. There are drawbacks, of course – free range chickens are notorious for destroying garden beds, and can be plucked off by predators more easily. For us, however, the tradeoff is worth it.