It sounds like a feather-brained scheme straight from the scripts of Chicken Run or The Great Escape.
But when a clutch of plucky hens decided to make a bid for freedom from their battery farm, the result was nothing short of eggs-traordinary.
A recent clean up at the farm saw everything from waste plastic and wood to general rubbish being scooped up and thrown in a skip. And when Glenfarg-based Binn Skips arrived to uplift the giant garbage bin they were unaware they had six stowaways on board.
It was only when the skip was up-ended at Binnwaste Management’s recycling centre in the Perthshire countryside that staff got in a flap over the lively contents.
“It is unbelievable that chickens could survive being buried in a skip, transported for miles, tipped out among weighty rubbish and set about with a digger,’ explained Binnwaste Management’s general manager Iain Taylor.
“The driver of the claw digger started to sort through the newly dumped load when he saw hens emerging from the pile of rubbish – one after another. He couldn’t believe his eyes. He stopped the machine immediately and watched in wonder as six chickens shook themselves free of the mess and headed outside to freedom.”
Although the chickens were scrawny and flustered, they were otherwise unhurt. And after a few weeks running around the grassy slopes at the recycling centre they’ve put on weight, regained full glossy plumage and become great favourites with the workforce.
“We have around a hundred lorries a day arrive with their loads at the recycling centre and everyone knows now to watch out for the chickens,” said Iain.
“They get plenty of nourishment picking around the yard and know to steer clear of all the machinery. Some of the drivers have even bought proper chicken feed for them. They’ve become the company pets.”
Workers thought they might get a few eggs in return for their part in the successful flight to freedom but can’t find where the chickens are laying. “We’ll crack the eggs mystery eventually,” they joked. The chickens’ new free range lifestyle is something staff at Binnwaste Management are keen to safeguard.
“They deserve their freedom,” said Iain. “To escape from a battery farm lifestyle and survive the horrors of being in a rubbish skip heading for recycling surely earns them parole?
“We get some weird and wonderful things in our skips but this is the first time anything living has ever jumped out. They’re real little heroes. They’ve got a home here for life if they want it.”