A primary school in east Leeds has welcomed a batch of new hens after intruders broke into the coop and set the previous chickens loose, much to the horror of the youngsters who helped to rear them.
The chickens are just some of the animals used as part of the educational programme at Meadowfields Primary School, which also has a reading dog, a rabbit and a tarantula.
Learning assistant Lisa Ullyart, who has looked after the chickens for four years now, said: “The whole purpose is to encourage children to care for animals and understand the circle of life.
“There are lots of important messages we can share with the children when the time is right.”
The focus is very much on the children playing an active role in caring for the animals.
“For many of them, it will be the closest they get to having a pet,” Lisa said.
It was heartbreaking for the children then when intruders released the hens last month, leaving them at the mercy of any predators in the area.
Lisa said: “We believe a fox has got them. While that’s not always a pleasant message to hear, it’s nature.”
A message in the latest school newsletter telling families about what had happened prompted a number of offers of support, including donations towards the cost of hens.
Four new chickens have now arrived at the school in Halton Moor Avenue from the rehoming charity Fresh Start for Hens, with the potential for two more arrivals in the spring.
Any additional funds raised will be put towards ‘buddy benches’ near the chicken enclosure and elsewhere in the school’s grounds.