The RSPCA has raised concerns about the number of hens and cockerels being abandoned this winter.
Dozens of birds have been dumped in recent weeks, sparking fears that charities and rescue centres will soon be overrun with unwanted chickens.
The animal welfare charity believes the rise could be down to a surge in people buying chickens during lockdown - who now find they are unable or unwilling to look after them
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A charity spokesperson 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.
The RSPCA fears that this problem could worsen as cases of bird flu are confirmed across the country.
This means that bird keepers need to keep their birds contained indoors from 14 December and the charity recommends the owners of all captive birds follow the Government’s biosecurity advice.