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'It's not over yet' - Feral chicken round up still ongoing at housing estate

PUBLISHED: 08:00 29 December 2018 | UPDATED: 08:58 29 December 2018

Locals turn out to help round-up the feral chickens that have been living near the new homes on Ensign Way and Victory Court, Diss.
Picture: Nick Butcher

Locals turn out to help round-up the feral chickens that have been living near the new homes on Ensign Way and Victory Court, Diss. Picture: Nick Butcher

Archant © 2018

Residents of a quiet South Norfolk estate are still removing feral chickens, four months after more than 200 swarmed their streets.

Carol Morris feeding the chickens on Ensign Way in December. PHOTO: Sophie SmithCarol Morris feeding the chickens on Ensign Way in December. PHOTO: Sophie Smith

It was back in August when a group of amateur chicken rustlers came together armed with nets, cages and boxes to put the chickens and roosters in on the Ensign Way estate in Diss.

Members of the group included both locals and people from as far afield as Kent and Yorkshire who had travelled to help and to offer birds a home.

Former Diss mayor Graham Minshull said: “The vast majority were rounded up but a few were left down there. It’s still ongoing to make sure we don’t have the same problem next year. It isn’t over yet.”

The main problem is that the chickens breed so quickly. Some resdients believe the population exploded when a house left a mating pair behind when they moved house, but other residents say there has been a small number of chickens for 15 years.

Locals turn out to help round-up the feral chickens that have been living near the new homes on Ensign Way and Victory Court, Diss.
Picture: Nick ButcherLocals turn out to help round-up the feral chickens that have been living near the new homes on Ensign Way and Victory Court, Diss. Picture: Nick Butcher

Carol Morris, 71, feeds the chickens every day. She said: “We’re down to about 50. They’re always there at the door, waiting at 7am or 8am.

“They call me the chicken whisperer! As soon as I walk down there they come from every direction. They’re still nesting in the trees up the top, and we’ve got little ones about three weeks old. There’s a few complaints, which is fair enough.

“It’s surprising how many people do care about them, we all go up and feed them and the horse and the ducks in the field. I thought perhaps in the run up to Christmas we’d have more people taking them away but they seem to have tailed off. People ask us if we have eggs, but to be honest they hatch them all, they’re not like shop bought eggs.

“The weekends they were rounding them up, I thought it was cruel. Most people say they hope they don’t take them away, because it is part of this estate.”

A chicken in an Ensign Way front garden in Diss in December. PHOTO; Sophie SmithA chicken in an Ensign Way front garden in Diss in December. PHOTO; Sophie Smith

Ms Morris’s partner Keith said: “The only way to stop it is to catch all the cockerels and cut the numbers down. I think it will be worse in the spring because there’s more now than what there was this time last year. There was only about a dozen when we first moved here and now they’re wandering around in their 20s, and they have 10-12 youngsters at a time.”

Gwen Synclair, a neighbour, said: “I don’t want them to go away because I think it’s all part of the package living here. We think it’s lovely.”

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