BACKYARD poultry keepers are reporting bird thefts in light of unprecedented demand for eggs.

Smallholding societies and charities have urged owners to step-up security and look out for would-be thieves.

Last week, several point-of-lay pullet sellers reported huge demand for backyard poultry.

And there have since been reports of birds going missing in Leicester, Lincolnshire, parts of Yorkshire and Cardiff.

‘Hen’s stolen’

The British Hen Welfare Trust said: “We have unfortunately been hearing anecdotal evidence of hens being stolen from their coops due to these unprecedented circumstances. Please be vigilant with your security and keep a close eye on your flock to keep them safe.”

Kaz McCarthy, Kent coordinator for the charity, said: “Please be aware there are a large amount of backyard chicken thefts happening in the current climate.

“Please by all means share your pictures but make sure you have your privacy settings locked in so predators can’t get to you,” she added.

‘May be abandoned’

And RSPCA officers in Scunthorpe said laying hens and ducks had been stolen from a household.

“Some of these birds are elderly or non-layers.

“They may well be abandoned once whoever took them realises that they won’t produce many or any eggs.

“These birds were pets and their family is very upset. Also, if you have poultry yourself, make sure you are taking extra precautionary measures at this time to try and discourage anyone from taking them.”