A charity which rehouses chickens has said it has received more than 50,000 requests for hens on its waiting list since the start of the UK’s coronavirus lockdown.
Fresh Start for Hens aims to help find homes for ex-commercial hens which would normally face being sent to slaughter after reaching the end of their peak egg-laying years.
Jaki Hann, the charity’s operations director, said demand for the birds went “absolutely crazy” when the lockdown began in March and eggs, along with household essentials such as toilet roll, suddenly became in short supply.
“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,” Ms Hann told the BBC.
“At the peak we were getting 4,000 enquiries a week.”
The charity said on its website that it was looking to find homes for thousands of chickens at three dates over the coming months, with 2400 hens available on 19 September and 5500 hens on 3 and 10 October.
Alongside its rehousing efforts, Fresh Start for Hens works to raise awareness of “the plight of the commercial caged hen” and to persuade consumers to buy eggs from free range chickens.
The group, which was founded in London in 2008, also reserved homes for 800 ducks over the weekend after an emergency request from a commercial farm.
Ms Hann said potential owners were asked to provide photographs to show suitable fox-proof accommodation for the birds but in some cases people had sent “doctored images” or pictures from the internet to try to get around the rules.
She added that there were concerns about people who regretted their decision to get chickens and wanted to get rid of the birds.