Worryingly, these shocking new figures are already 8% higher than for the entirety of 2020, with 1,841 abandoned chickens reported to the RSPCA’s cruelty line in 2022 so far.

They are on course to also surpass 2021’s total - which saw 1,841 abandoned chickens reported to the charity.

In the South West there have been 158 reports of abandoned chickens since 2020.

Sadly, the UK has experienced the worst outbreak of Avian Influenza (AI) ever seen this year with high numbers of sick and dying birds being reported. Pet hens have spent the majority of the year housed indoors after a housing order meant they were on ‘flockdown’ for the first five months of the year. Another housing order came into effect for England last month.

Since 2020, there have now been 5,351 chickens reported as neglected or abandoned to the RSPCA’s cruelty line.

Kate Norman, poultry expert at the charity, said: “Keeping hens has become increasingly popular in recent years but it’s incredibly sad to see so many of them being abandoned and neglected. We are concerned that we could see an increase in the number of dumped chickens due to the cost of living crisis and concerns over bird flu.”

“We would urge anyone who is struggling to care for their pets to please reach out for help from friends or family, or charities. Please never abandon any animal.”

Pet owners are also advised to follow government biosecurity advice to help protect the health of their birds as well as to try and limit the spread of the virus. 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.

Acorn (pictured) is a bantam cockerel who was sadly found straying along with two other cockerels and were not reclaimed by an owner. The other two have since been rehomed but Acorn is still looking. He has a sweet docile nature and will need a secure coop to roost overnight and access to a safe area to roam during the day where he can scratch, dust bathe, and exhibit his natural behaviour. He would like to be rehomed with some hens for company.

To apply to adopt Acorn, please email RSPCA West Hatch in Somerset at [email protected].