Worrying rise in dumped chickens as owners get fed up of lockdown pets

All 27,000 chickens on a farm in Suffolk will have to be culled after a bird flu outbreak was discov

The RSPCA has become concerned at the number of chickens being abandoned - Credit: THEGREENJ

Worrying numbers of pet chickens are being dumped and abandoned in Suffolk - by lockdown pet owners unable to look after them.

And the RSPCA, which dealt with 18 chicken incidents in Suffolk from January 1 this year to November 30, fears the problem could get even worse amid fears of cases of bird flu across the country.

A spokesman for the animal charity said: “Concerns were raised during lockdown about the increase in pet acquisition and ownership, and we feared that people would soon lose interest and start to hand their animals over once life started to return to normal. 

“In the spring, many hen producers reported huge surges in demand for chicks and we believe this may be because people panic bought birds due to shortages of eggs in the supermarkets but, due to the shops being better stocked, are now ‘surplus to requirement’.

"There are also concerns that some families may have taken on unsexed chicks, which have grown into noisy cockerels so are now being abandoned."

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Since December 14, government biosecurity advice also requires all chicken owners to keep their animals contained indoors.

Kate Parkes, poultry welfare specialist at the RSPCA, said: “It’s really important that owners follow government biosecurity advice to help protect the health of their birds as well as to try and limit the spread of the virus.

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"All pet poultry owners need to stay vigilant for signs of disease and ill health in their flocks and it’s vital they seek veterinary advice if they have any concerns for their birds.

“We’re concerned that worries about bird flu and changes to how we’re allowed to keep hens may lead to more owners abandoning their pets, putting more pressure on rescue centres.”

The RSPCA also dealt with 27 chicken incidents in Essex from January 1 this year to November 30.

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