The owner of an animal rescue centre at Tealby says she has seen a significant rise in the number of chickens being dumped over the past few weeks since bird flu was first identified in the county.
Amanda O’Brien set up Feathers, Paws and Claws two years ago and says the last year has ‘gone crazy’, but the past few weeks have been even busier.
She continued: “We will always help as many as we can, but we just cannot keep up with this amount.
“People have been dumping chickens and other poultry and we have been called to help catch them and offer them a home.
“We have even had people dumping poor helpless animals over the fence into our garden.
“It has always been a problem with people dumping cockerels – nobody wants the boys.
“On Christmas Day I had seven boys just dumped over the back fence in a cage. I don’t know how long they had been there, but I didn’t find them until the evening. Lucky that I did though as it had been raining most of the day and so they were very wet and cold and wouldn’t have survived overnight.
“I think this increase is due to avian flu lockdown, as people have been forced to keep their birds locked away.”
The first cases of the deadly H5N1 virus were identified in the UK at the end of November, which prompted the UK’s chief vets to issue the order to keep free-range poultry and back-yard chicken flocks indoors.
There have been no cases identified within the Market Rasen area to date, but a further case was confirmed near Louth on Monday.
Back at Tealby, the housing regulations are impacting on the work Amanda is able to do too.
She said: “When we take birds in we can’t just put them all together, we have to quarantine them from those we already have here. As we are only small – with just five pens –- that is really difficult.
“We also have had the normal wildlife admissions for this time of year on top of this emergency and we are literally creaking.”
Amanda describes the rescue centre as a ‘self-funded hobby’ and has set up an appeal to help deal with the unprecedented amount of admissions taken on in the past few weeks.
The appeal has already reached £1,000 of £1,500 target and will continue to run over the next couple of weeks.
Amanda said: “There are a lot more good people out there than bad; if there weren’t those good people supporting me I would have crumbled a long time ago.”
○To support the centre’s appeal visit the FeathersPaws ClawsRescue Facebook page.
Avian flu in Lincolnshire
Around one million birds have been culled in the fight to stop bird flu spreading across the county. There are currently at least 12 3km protection zones in place, which surround sites where outbreaks have occurred. Most of the Lincolnshire Wolds and the coastline from Cleethorpes to Skegness sit within 10km surveillance zones of outbreaks. The UK’s chief veterinary officer Dr Christine Middlemiss said: “We are seeing a growing number of bird flu cases both on commercial farms and in backyard birds right across the country, with a high number of cases in Lincolnshire.”