When Steve Morrow posted a NZ$1.50 (US$.96) bid for an "urgent sale” of chickens recently, he thought he was getting a bargain price for a single bird. A small free-range egg farm in Massey, New Zealand, was closing down and needed to be vacated by Monday. On Sunday, Steve received a call from the seller, Matthew Blomfield, who told him that he had bought the whole flock: 1,000 chickens. Now Steve’s desperate to get rid of them.
In conversation with Stuff, Steve explained that he was responding to an advertisement for the sale of "one 1,000" birds and, upon discovering he was the highest bidder, thought “this is great, I could take as many birds as I wanted.”
"But when I spoke to the man and he said it was for 1,000 hens… holy moly, I was stunned, I can tell you that," he said.
While Steve insists that the “wording [of the ad] was confusing,” Matthew points out that the full 1,000 hens was mentioned three times—once in the title and twice in the description.
"It's pretty bloody hard to get that wrong," Matthew said, confirming that he’s since had multiple conversations with Steve about the sale. "We discussed the logistics behind it all, he said he's worked at freehold farms. But over the weekend I think it became apparent to him that 1,000 hens is a bit too many birds and must have had a change of mind."
Steve took to social media on Monday to ask for help rehoming his new mega flock. Hundreds of people initially responded, and animal welfare group Animal Sanctuary reportedly found homes for more than 700 of the chickens by midday. “We want to make sure these birds are going to safe homes," Matthew said.
It has since been revealed, however, that the flock is likely plagued with diseases and can’t be rehomed. Shawn Bishop, the owner of Animal Sanctuary, said she was contacted by another farmer who took in 4,500 chickens from the same flock in October. When the farmer had some of the birds inspected by a vet, he found that they were infested with lice, mites, and tapeworms.
"We had interviewed a lot of people who had shown interest in taking in these hens and we're sorry that we can't do that now,” said Shawn, according to Stuff. "But the birds' welfare is important and they need to be treated."
Steve previously planned on keeping 20 of the hens for himself, but said he was happy they were going to get the proper treatment they needed.
"This is a preventative measure to stop any spread to any flock,” he said.
It is thought that the possibility of rehoming the hens could be back on the table after their current laying cycle, which usually lasts for about 12 months.
Conversion: NZ$1 = US$.64