A WOMAN has been rescuing abandoned cockerels on the streets of Abingdon.

People in the town began posting on Facebook last weekend asking if anyone had lost a chicken, and got in touch with Sarah Jones because they knew she kept chickens.

While they were not Miss Jones’ chickens, she decided to take the two roosters in temporarily until she could find the abandoned birds a permanent home.

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Now Miss Jones has said she fears there is a major national problem with people who bought chickens as pets over lockdown trying to get rid of them.

She said: “I have noticed a lot of people dumping chickens recently.

“People bought a lot over lockdown, and it seems people start to freak out, because the chicken eggs would hatch and it would out to be a boy that starts cock-a-doodle-doo-ing really loudly.

“I saw a post on Facebook asking if anyone had lost a chicken.

Oxford Mail: Sarah Jones with rescued roosterSarah Jones with rescued rooster

“People started getting in contact with me because they know me for having chickens, but I knew it wasn’t one of mine because it was a boy and a different breed.

“I went down and collected it, then I got a message from another man who had found a rooster in his garden.”

That rooster had been thrown over his nine-foot garden wall inside a bag.

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Miss Jones said people disposing of their roosters in public spaces has become a widespread problem.

She said: “The dumping of cockerels is becoming a big problem for animal rescues, there is a cockerel rescue but it’s almost at full capacity.

“I have now thankfully found homes for them both.

“I am a member of a big online chicken community, and a farmer said he’ll take one for his farm, and the other is going to Big Red Roosters Rescue.”

Oxford Mail: Robin rescued from a school hatch.Robin rescued from a school hatch.

Helen Cooper, who runs the Big Red Rooster cockerel rescue in Highworth near Faringdon confirmed that people abandoning roosters had become a nationwide problem in recent months.

Ms Cooper said: “There has been a massive increase this year in numbers needing rescue.

“I probably get between half a dozen to ten requests a day because of dumped birds, and a lot of this is to do with Covid.

“I naively thought that because schools were closed, there wouldn’t be the issue of schools hatching chicken eggs.

“Companies provide schools with incubators and eggs, then once the chickens are hatched the schools usually keep the hens but the roosters are taken back to be killed.

“So I thought when the schools shut this would also stop, but everyone thought it would be a brilliant idea to get hatching eggs for their kids over lockdown, you can buy them on eBay with an incubator and its instant entertainment for kids.”

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Ms Cooper has been running her rooster rescue for five years after she worked with a farmer in Oxfordshire who used to kill around 300 male chicks a year, and decided it was not humane.

She added: “People don’t know what to do with roosters.

“One bird we rescued was found alive dumped in a rubbish bin the morning the bins were going to be collected.”

Ms Cooper now has over 200 ‘residents’ at her rescue in Highworth but has only been able to house 20 new roosters over lockdown despite having over 200 requests.

Ms Cooper warned people not to buy chicken eggs unless they are prepared to also have roosters.

She said:“Do not do it unless you are prepared that you will have boys. It is a fact that if you are hatching half a dozen eggs, you will have boys.

“Rescuers are bursting. I go through hours worth of emails every day.”