‘I need help to protect my Birmingham community farm from chicken thieves’

Thieves have targeted Balsall Heath City Farm stealing 17 chickens

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The distraught boss of a council-backed urban farm in Birmingham said he was planning to build a crime-proof “chicken fortress” after 17 birds were stolen in the fourth raid in a year.

Balsall Heath City Farm lost all but one of its hens in a break-in in the early hours of Tuesday, November 7. Farm manager Hywel Williams discovered the lock on the chicken coop had been snapped off.

He said: “We’ve been a well-valued part of Balsall Heath for many years. Parents can bring children and parents came here as children themselves. Yet this latest break-in follows three last December where we had rabbits, guinea pigs and a turkey go missing.

“We’re all heartbroken and disgusted we have had a break-in on the farm again with police still investigating. Yet again, we are having to explain to children, volunteers and visitors what has happened to the birds that they have been looking after, feeding or just enjoying seeing all year.”

Chickens at Balsall Heath City FarmChickens at Balsall Heath City Farm
Chickens at Balsall Heath City Farm

Farm bosses said the chickens would be replaced but a new chicken coop would have to be built to put a stop to break-ins happening again. “We’ve been wanting to replace that wooden house for some time anyway because it is pretty old,” farm manager Hywel told BBC WM.

“We think we can have something better and be stronger. In terms of building a brick structure with steel doors – it is completely ludicrous and over-the-top but I don’t know what else to do now. I’m at the end of my tether with it.

"My appeal now is to anyone who can help with the construction of this new facility for chickens to get in touch, whether that’s a student at a construction college wanting a real-life project or builders willing to give us their time to design and build it. There may be building suppliers willing to help which would be great.”

To offer help to build a new secure chicken coop at Balsall Heath City Farm, call 0121 464 1889 or email [email protected]. Balsall Heath City Farm is part of the St Paul’s Community Development Trust in partnership with organisations such as Birmingham Playcare Network, Midland Mencap and the Birmingham City Council-run The Active Wellbeing Society.