Otterton Mill return hope for chickens who pushed their cluck

PUBLISHED: 09:00 10 January 2009 | UPDATED: 12:11 17 June 2010

CHICKENS who were dramatically recued from drowning in October s floods, can look forward to a return to their Otterton Mill home in the next few months.

CHICKENS who were dramatically recued from drowning in October's floods, can look forward to a return to their Otterton Mill home in the next few months.

The five brown hens, Elena, Treacle, Jasmine, Rosie and Pumpkin, had only just swapped cramped wire cages and the threat of slaughter on a battery farm for the fresh air and green grass of the popular tourist attraction when the River Otter burst its banks on October 30 and raging waters swirled around them.

Trapped in their coop 75 yards from land, the chickens were rescued by five RSPCA officers who waded through the depths to bring them to safety.

Since their ordeal, the birds -obtained through a nationwide rescue scheme organised by the Battery Hen Welfare Trust, have been recovering in temporary accommodation but arrangements are being made for their return in early spring, with staff working hard to ensure they will.

Owner Caroline Spiller said: "We have to move the henhouse to a different location away from the river so if worse comes to worse again it will be easier to rescue them.

"The girls (chickens)have been enjoying lots of love and attention at their temporary home, and are now fully fit and in full plumage.

"Those who saw the them at the Mill before the flood will have seen the poor state they were in on arrival from the battery farm. I was shocked. Thankfully, after just two months of free range living and a well-balanced diet, they are thriving."

Otterton Mill was badly hit by October's floods and suffered further misery when more downpours led to its newly re-laid car park suffering further damage in December.

Mrs Spiller and husband Simon re-instated the tradition of having chickens on site by popular demand when they took over the business and their return will prove to be a special moment for them after refurbishing parts of the site.

Mrs Spiller said: "To have them back is another step in getting back to normal. It will definitely be a celebration."

She added the chickens will be kept in a fenced enclosure for their own safety but will have plenty of room to roam and forage and visitors would be welcome on their return.


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