Most people know that I am absolutely obsessed with my chickens and my stag turkey Spartacus. Most people also know that for the last several months these chickens and turkey have been put undercover due to Avian Flu regulations.
It’s hard as a chicken keeper when we have to lock up our normally free-ranging little feathery raptors. I purchased a large chicken run which cost me nearly £300 of my own money. I added a roof as required and strengthened several areas to make sure they were safe from predators. Recently I also installed a privacy curtain but I’ll get to that later.
The charity with the worst press imaginable is probably the largest animal welfare charity in the Country. They get a bad rep. – mainly because they never seem to be where they are needed and always seem to be where they aren’t needed. But why is this?
Did you know that a large percentage of the calls they get each year are malicious? That’s right. People actually phone this charity to make malicious complaints as a way of bullying and harassment. If this didn’t happen would they be able to deal with more urgent matters? Highly likely.
On Saturday we went to a pigeon that was reported as being badly injured on the side of the road. When we got there the man advised me that he had spoken to this charity who had said they wouldn’t attend and that he was not advised to touch the bird due to Avian Flu – so what was meant to happen? Was this bird just to be left there to suffer until eventually after hours and hours it passed away in pain? This is a welfare charity and as such I find it hard to believe this is what they actually meant.
The problem is that the majority of calls are handled by a call centre. These are not people who are out there -in fact one actually asked me during a call what colour a wood pigeon was?! So these aren’t people with experience. The Inspectors get a bad rep. on the back of this – they are told where to go and what to do and sometimes they get maligned for it? Who is at fault? Quite a few people probably.
So why am I writing this? Well I was reported to this organisation in March for: having 40 chickens in a make-shift cage without food or water. Yes that’s right. I don’t even have 40 chickens. They are in an expensive run. They have more food and water than I do and are extremely fat as a result. In fact when I was speaking to a Police Sergeant the other week who had had the misfortune of personally meeting Spartacus the turkey – he remembered how well looked after he and all the other birds were. If they were unfed it is unlikely that a) I’d have any chickens still alive and b) I’d be getting the amount of eggs I do now.
I suppose sometimes you have to laugh – a few years ago the same person reported me for apparently over-feeding them and attracting rodents!
So what do malicious complaints to this large welfare charity actually do?
Well, they serve their purpose. They cause a lot of mental and emotional suffering to the person reported – which is what the reporter actually wants because lets face it this is never actually about welfare. It’s about harassment. They succeed because then people who adore their animals have to feel like criminals as they second guess every decision they have ever made. Just because the enclosure cost me a fortune and all my birds are happy doesn’t mean I made the right call? What if I miscounted and Chicken Math really is a thing? What if there’s an inspection after they’ve eaten every bit of their food? Will I have to present them for crop feeling so they can tell they’ve all been well fed?
It’s a horrendous form of harassment and it wastes so much of this charity’s time. How can they be expected to know that it’s just a malicious complaint – they are damned if they go and damned if they don’t.
I can honestly say that people who waste any organisations time should be heavily fined. They should be forced to pay for the time they have wasted and throw an extra portion of fine in for the emotional impact on their target. It would soon put a stop to it.
So to the privacy curtain. I actually felt outraged on behalf of my chickens that they were being watched by someone! Watched!!! So I invested in some bamboo screening so they can go about their day without their little fluffy butts being on display to peepers. I want my well loved chickens to feel as safe as possible – I want them to keep loving life. I want to sit out in the sun when the restrictions are lifted and have them jumping all over me for cuddles – because let’s face it if I neglected them they wouldn’t actively seek me out for a hug.
Anyone who tries to come between me and my feathery raptors is a fool – I come to the fight with an army of the fluffiest boking warriors the world has ever seen! Hens will always have your back – especially if there are blueberries in your pocket.