A BROOD of hens dumped in Belmont has been rescued thanks to a local family.
According to animal welfare group NSW Hen Rescue, the incidence of dumped chickens is on the rise and school hatching programs may be part of the problem.
On May 15, Damien Lavercombe was walking his dog near the water treatment works on Ocean Street, Belmont, when he came upon a brood of dumped chickens hiding deep in lantana.
‘‘I couldn’t believe it when I saw the chickens,” said Mr Lavercombe said. “It made me sick someone had been so cruel as to treat these individuals as mere rubbish.
“I couldn’t just leave them there.”
With the help of his children, Darcy, 12 and Maya, 11, nine of the 10 chooks were caught. The family called NSW Hen Rescue, an organisation which saves hens, set to be euthanised, from factory farms.
They rescued the final hen. The chooks were suffering from a severe case of scaly mite.
“We were appalled at the condition of the hens ... and we had to rush four girls to the vets as they were feeling really sick,” Hen Rescue’s Ana Lopes said.
While the dumping of hens was unusual, the organisation said it got calls about roosters every day.
The organisation claimed the school hatching program was a driver of rooster dumping. Families of the students will often adopt the chicks after they have hatched.
“They say it’s educational for the kids,” Ms Lopes said. “But what they don’t realise is 50 per cent of the chicks are male.
“A few months in they discover the chicks are roosters. We get calls from distressed families.
“It posses a lot of problems.”
Hen Rescue’s core business is re-homing factory hens due for slaughter. They have a rigorous vetting process.
Lake Macquarie Council said reports of stray hens and roosters were rare and there was no specific legislation that prohibited a bird, including chickens or roosters, from roaming in a public place. Rangers generally are able to return lost chooks to their owners.