Mystery of the disappearing chickens

THEY are the most famous fowl in the county but concerns have been raised about the chickens at Ditchingham roundabout following reports that their numbers have dropped by over a half in recent weeks.

THEY are the most famous fowl in the county but concerns have been raised about the chickens at Ditchingham roundabout following reports that their numbers have dropped by over a half in recent weeks.

Gordon Knowles, the 'chicken man,' who has been feeding the birds for 20 years, said that there were about 70 chickens on the roundabout six or seven weeks ago but there are now only about 30.

Mr Knowles, 76, said he did not know why the numbers have gone down although he suspected a local person may have been killing them off.

“They're certainly disappearing,” he said. “I don't know if someone's killing them, if they're putting poison down, but there's something going on, it's wrong. Most people love them round here, people are always asking me, 'how are the chickens doing?'

“That's such a pity because all around the world they know about them, they really put Ditchingham on the map. They're loved everywhere. They don't do anyone any harm.”

The flock has now been in Ditchingham for nearly 60 years, and have experienced various threats to their existence as people have resented their bizarre choice of home.

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In 2006 Mr Knowles was worried that someone was poisoning or abducting the chickens, and most recently, in December last year, he was worried when Norfolk County Council chopped some of the branches off trees near the roundabout that the chickens may have been roosting in.