RSPCA warns of surge in dumped hens as people abandon lockdown pets

The RSPCA has warned of a rise in the number of chickens being abandoned after lots of people went out and bought chicks during lockdown and now can’t take care of them, particularly in light of the avian influenza housing order.

The animal welfare charity – that operates across England and Wales – is concerned at the number of hens and cockerels being abandoned and fears rescue centres will be overrun with birds soon.

So far this year, the RSPCA has dealt with 1,594 incidents related to chickens across England and Wales and has had abandonment incidents relating to 1,562 birds. The charity has also taken 280 chickens into its centres for rehoming.

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.”

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