Unwanted roosters are being dumped beside Tauranga roads and rest areas, with one poultry activist saying it is a growing problem.
Kelly Phelps, owner of Free as a Bird Battery Hen and Poultry Rescue, a non-profit organisation that rescued, rehabilitated and rehomed poultry, said she had been getting at least one call a week about roosters and hens that had been dumped.
Recently Mrs Phelps was called to a rest area on Omanawa Rd where 12 roosters and hens had been dumped in the same spot.
"I've had another two calls in the last 24 hours," she said.
Mrs Phelps said there were several places around Tauranga where people regularly dumped unwanted roosters, including Te Puke, Omanawa Rd and Te Puna.
It had become quite popular for people to hatch their own eggs, and while they were quite happy with the cute chicks and hens, they did not have a forward plan when some of the eggs hatched roosters, Mrs Phelps said.
"Roosters are noisy, if there are too many they fight and become aggressive."
Mrs Phelps said one rooster would protect a flock of hens but if there was more than one, they could get nasty and pick on one another to establish dominance.
"They end up turning on people and can be quite aggressive. Also if there's more than one rooster they can wake up at all hours and start crowing, which sets all the others off."
Mrs Phelps said not all roosters were nasty but the ones that got dumped usually were.
Dumped roosters posed a problem in several ways, she said.
"They can survive when they are dumped but when a hen has been dumped in the same spot then the population could grow quite quickly," she said.
"If a hen is laying an egg a day and it decides to sit on eight or ten of those, then you could have eight to ten babies."
The area could become quite populated and when looking for food and water the chickens could end up wandering onto roads and causing accidents.
"I've seen nasty accidents where roosters have gone out into the road," Mrs Phelps said.
Mrs Phelps' business found new homes for hens and roosters, but roosters were especially hard to rehome.
"I try to rehome as many as I can but unfortunately I can't rehome them all. I have a gentleman who comes and takes them away for me."
Mrs Phelps and several volunteers headed out to Omanawa Rd last week to rescue the dumped roosters and hens, gathering up seven of the 12.
Natalie Crosby had noticed the group of poultry on the Omanawa roadside and put the call in to Free as a Bird, worried about their welfare.
"I think people think it's less cruel to dump them than it is to get rid of them or put them in the pot. But it's crueler to leave them struggling on the side of the road," Mrs Crosby, who lived off Omanawa Rd, said.
Mrs Crosby moved from Pukekohe to Tauranga last month and said this latest group of dumped roosters was not the first group she had seen.
"There's a real increase of seeing them on sides of road. If you are going to hatch out eggs you have to be prepared to deal with the roosters that come with."
If you are interested in rehoming a hen or rooster please contact Kelly on 021 212 4788.