There has been a surge in the number of pet hens and cockerels abandoned and it is put down to several factors including the following:
- Bird flu. Bird flu is in the news at the moment. It is the H5N8 strain which accounts for the majority of UK cases. Although there are no known cases of transmission of this disease from chickens to people, it is causing concern leading to abandonment. The RSPCA reported that their rescue centres were close to being overrun because of the number of pet hens and cockerels abandoned. Owners of hens as pets have to comply with rules such as confinment to the indoors or in a netted outdoor enclosure in order to follow bio-security regulations.
- Another reason is that some people adopted an unsterilised chick which then grew up into a noisy cockerel resulting in the abandonment of the animal. One cockerel was found dumped in a layby near Christchurch, Dorset on November 17.
- There’s been an increase in pet acquisition and adoptions including chickens as pets during coronavirus lockdowns. It is said that many people adopted a bird because of a shortage of eggs in supermarkets. It appears that they thought they could produce their own eggs. If that is the reason it was misplaced because the supermarkets were stocked well with eggs which means that the birds became surplus to requirements to those who adopted them.
In 2020 it is reported that the RSPCA has dealt with 1,562 abandoned birds. Eleven hens were found dumped down an alleyway in Ealing on December 8. Four of them died while 7 were being cared for at Harmsworth Animal Hospital. In another case, 3 chickens were abandoned in a small and unhygienic cage in Canterbury where they were rescued by the RSPCA.
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