The BHWT is urging people to think twice about hatching chicks as the number of unwanted cockerels rises.

There’s nothing cuter than the sight of a yellow fluffy chick emerging from a shell. However, as adorable as they are, and as tempting as it can be to have a go at hatching your own chickens, there can be unintended negative consequences.

One of the biggest ones is that you might hatch a cockerel instead of a hen.

Everybody knows cockerels crow – loudly. And while you might enjoy the sound, your neighbours may not be so enthusiastic; it’s not uncommon for neighbour complaints to lead to people needing to rehome their cockerel.

Plus, the male-to-female ratio in flocks is important – too many males can result in daily fighting and stress to your birds and you. So, depending on how many hens you have and whether you already have a cockerel, it might not be wise to risk the possibility of getting another one.

The issue of unwanted cockerels has long been a problem. It’s the reason why, even though the British Hen Welfare Trust (BHWT) is a charity firmly focused on helping hens, they set up the Lonely Hearts Club for Cockerels to help people advertise for new homes for their unwanted males.

Photo: © Chris Graham

The charity receives daily requests from people looking to advertise for new homes for their cockerels via its Lonely Hearts Club page. In the first 10 months of 2021, the number of adverts was up by a third compared to the previous year.

Jane Howorth, founder of the BHWT, said, “We’re fans of all our feathery friends so we’re not here to cockerel-bash…but there are some downsides to keeping one of these beautiful boys. The impact on neighbour-relations and the rest of your hens being the main ones.

“Cockerels can make fun and loving pets if you can accommodate them properly. But like all pets, they are best acquired with some forethought and planning and in a situation where you are 100% confident that you can commit to the long-term implications of caring for your animal.

“While I do understand the temptation to hatch your own chicks, please, please only do so if you have a plan of how you would manage if one, or more, turned out to be cockerels. If that happens, you’ll only have two options.

“One of which is to humanely ‘dispatch’. So, if you’re thinking of hatching your own hens you need to ask yourself whether this is something you’re willing or able to do. The second option is to try and find them a new home which, for the reasons outlined above, is not always easy to do.”

If anyone can give an unwanted cockerel a home, please visit the BHWT’s Lonely Hearts Club for Cockerels: www.bhwt.org.uk/cockerel-adoption

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