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Chicken charity inundated with requests for hens

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The Covid-19 lockdown has led to a hen rehoming charity being swamped with 52,106 requests for chickens.

During the first few weeks of the UK's restrictions on the population's movement, to stop the spread of coronavirus, supermarket shelves were stripped bare of key essential supplies, one of them being eggs. This spurred a surge in chicken keeping, as families searched for ways to become self-sufficient.

Haynes also noticed the trend in keeping chickens, with the Chicken Manual becoming the best-selling title for several weeks.

The Fresh Start for Hens charity started in 2008 and offers an alternative to slaughter when hens get past 72 weeks. The birds are collected from farmers and other commercial operations and delivered to households.

Operations director Jaki Hann said the huge demand was sparked by a shortage of eggs in shops in March. "We had to introduce a waiting list for the first time and so far we've had 9,480 people register, requesting a total of 52,106 hens," she told the BBC. "At the peak we were getting 4,000 inquiries a week."

Despite coronavirus restrictions easing, the charity said it still had a lengthy waiting list. 

However, Mrs Hann said she was aware that some people were regretting their decision to get chickens, with a handful taking extreme measures.

"We have heard of people saying they will leave the coop door open and let a fox take care of the hens, which is just shocking," she said.

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