Chickens are being dumped in huge numbers after ‘panic buyers’ bought them to lay eggs but struggled to look after them.

Animal charity the RSPCA warned they are being abandoned following Britain’s repeated lockdowns.

Fears of the return of bird flu is also fuelling the trend, the Manchester Evening News reports.

More than 1,500 were discarded last year across England and Wales, with dozens dumped across Greater Manchester.

The RSPCA says it follows a spike in people buying the birds during lockdown but then struggling to take care of them.

Rescue centres could soon become overrun with abandoned cockerels and hens as more people abandon them amid recent bird flu warnings, the charity fears.

Chickens are being dumped across the country
The RSPCA is warning of a rise in chickens being dumped

The charity dealt with 1,594 incidents related to chickens across England and Wales last year.

While 1,562 birds have been involved in abandonment incidents, the charity has also taken 280 chickens into its centres for rehoming.

Figures show West Yorkshire has the highest recorded number of chicken incidents at 62, between January and November 2020.

Greater Manchester closely follows with 56, followed by Wales at 55, Lancashire at 53 and London with 50.

The highest number of dumped chickens was recorded in West Yorkshire
West Yorkshire had the highest number

A spokesman for the RSPCA said: "Concerns were raised during lockdown about the increase in pet acquisition and ownership and we feared that people would soon lose interest and start to hand their animals over once life started to return to normal.

"In the spring, many hen producers reported huge surges in demand for chicks and we believe this may be because people panic bought birds due to shortages of eggs in the supermarkets but, due to the shops being better stocked, are now 'surplus to requirement'.

"There are also concerns that some families may have taken on unsexed chicks which have grown into noisy cockerels so are now being abandoned."

The RSPCA says people got chickens during lockdown
It comes amid warnings about bird flu

Dozens of unwanted hens and cockerels have also been dumped in recent weeks since the data was put together.

It has sparked fears charities and rescue centres will soon be overrun with even more unwanted chickens.

The RSPCA is concerned the problem could be made worse as cases of bird flu are confirmed in both wild and captive birds across the country.

Bird keepers have been advised to keep their animals inside since December 14.

Kate Parkes, poultry welfare specialist at the RSPCA, said: "It's really important that owners follow Government biosecurity advice to help protect the health of their birds as well as to try and limit the spread of the virus.

"All pet poultry owners need to stay vigilant for signs of disease and ill health in their flocks and it’s vital they seek veterinary advice if they have any concerns for their birds.

"We're concerned that worries about bird flu and changes to how we’re allowed to keep hens may lead to more owners abandoning their pets, putting more pressure on rescue centres."