‘Is that a chicken in a service station?’ 15 chickens make home in an unlikely place
More than 15 chickens were spotted roosting in the trees at an A500 Shell petrol station.
They were found by a driver who was using the petrol station late at night in Barthomley.
Warren Gibbard from Newcastle-under-Lyme said: “I went to the service station at around 4.30am one morning and I thought ‘Is that a chicken in a service station?
"I couldn’t believe it. I’d never seen anything like this. It smelled of chicken skat, which is a carrier of bird avian flu.
Gibbard told the police after repeatedly seeing the chickens
He continues to say, "They were hanging around where you check your tyre pressure and fill up your water.
"They hang out in the hedges as the day gets busier.
"You open your door and the stink and the smell was like a chicken hutch which had never been cleaned.
"It's an excellent place for disease to start.”
Gibbard is a medical scientist and previously owned chickens.
He added, “I think they’re all cocks, they're all males. They’re not as valuable as hens.
"I don’t think people realise that bird flu is very serious. It starts small, like something as silly as this.
"I’ve worked at hospitals for years, I’ve seen patients with chest problems and dying from chest illnesses and respiratory distress. It is quite a serious killer of people.
"There was so much chicken faeces and that’s a carrier of bird flu.”
Cheshire East Council visited the petrol station - on the junction 16 M6 roundabout - after receiving a complaint on February 5.A council spokesman said: “Two of our animal welfare officers have visited the garage.
"Nobody appears to own the chickens, which are roosting in trees.
"We were informed that staff at the garage provide feed and water. The area had been cleaned and there was no smell.“As these are wild birds, they do not fall within the avian flu rules that apply to birds in captivity.
"However, the council has informed the Animal and Plant Health Agency to make them aware. We understand the RSPCA is also aware.”
It comes as a mandatory housing order remains in place across England which makes it a legal requirement to keep poultry indoors. But the order does not apply to wild birds.Now Shell has arranged for the chickens to be removed and re-housed.A Shell spokesperson said: "We are aware of the mandatory housing order requiring poultry keepers to keep their birds indoors, and we're aware of the community's concerns.
"The chickens at Shell Barthomley are feral. We have contacted Footprints Animal Sanctuary, in Crewe, which agreed to house them."