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Villagers rally to help flock of feral chickens

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Villagers are rallying round to make sure a flock of around 100 feral chickens, which have led to nuisance complaints, will be properly looked after.Snettisham Parish Council and national charity Fresh Start for Hens based at Watton are looking at the best way to protect and care for the birds after villagers made it clear they wanted to keep some of the flock and came forward with offers of help with the possibility of a local voluntary group being formed to look after the birds’ welfare.Council clerk Roberta Mason explained it is a difficult matter for the parish council to deal with as the chickens are not owned by the council and nor are they on council land. She said other authorities approached haven’t been able to help either because there is no known owner of the flock .

The village of Snettisham in Norfolk where many feral chickens roam free. Picture: SWNS

“The parish council has no powers over these birds but we are doing something because it has been raised and the community want us to come up with a plan. It will have to be volunteers that deal with it going forward. In the absence of the birds being owned by anyone we have to come up with a plan for their welfare. The village have said they want to keep them and people are willing to help,” she said.Fresh Start for Hens needs to find out how many birds there are and their condition as some are diseased and need treatment for painful leg mites.Roberta said rounding up the flock isn’t an easy task as the birds aren’t domesticated and are frightened. But she said the charity, possibly with the help of volunteers, has experience of how do to this especially as cockerels can be aggressive.

The village of Snettisham in Norfolk where many feral chickens roam free. Picture: SWNS

Roberta said the charity is looking to start working with the flock in around a week’s time and it is speaking to its contacts countrywide to find the best homes. “We are hoping to create a pen area with proper food to entice the birds in then they can be inspected. The village wants to keep some of them because they are part of Snettisham. We don’t want to lose them but they are unhealthy and need looking after.”Complaints that the flock which are wandering from a wooded area, are a noise nuisance and are digging up gardens in Common Road made national headlines last week but Roberta said this has resulted in some people coming to the village and taking some of the birds away which has caused upset.

The village of Snettisham where many feral chickens roam free. Picture: SWNS

“It is upsetting this has happened as a result of the publicity. We’ve had people ringing up concerned but there are still plenty of birds left, it’s difficult to count the numbers but there are still a fair number,” said Roberta, who believes those responsible for removing the birds have come from outside the village.“Lots of people have volunteered to help the chickens and we are going to come up with a village plan with what is best for the chickens.” The parish council has been inundated with media enquiries worldwide since the story broke last week of complaints about the noisy flock and concerns that people feeding them is enticing rats.The Washington Post and media in Canada were among the international media interested in the story.Speaking about the future of the flock, Roberta said: “I think something good will come out of this. There’s been a lot of response from the village.”

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