Chickens crushed to death after hot air balloon panic

Steve Collins with the dead chickens
Steve Collins with the dead chickens

NEARLY 150 chickens were found dead in crushed mounds after a hot air balloon literally scared them to death.

Worker at Bradmoor Farm in Haddenham, Sharon Lester, said that after a hot air balloon had flown low over the area, she entered a barn to find four large mounds of what she described as ‘squashed’ chicken corpses.

It is thought the birds had climbed on top of one another in a desperate attempt to escape the large red Virgin balloon which, it is thought, they had seen from a shed window.

“The farmers warned me that things like this could happen, but this was nothing like I’d ever seen before,” said Sharon.

“I’d opened up the shed to collect their eggs and there they were. I thought to begin with there was only a few, but as we began pulling them out I soon began to realise there was so many.

“Some of them didn’t even have legs after we pulled them out, and some of their faces were actually stuck to the floor.

“It was awful, they must have been so scared. As an animal lover, it was so upsetting for me to see them like that.”

Farmer Ian Parkinson, of Folly Farm, around half a mile from Bradmoor, says he has lost calves in previous years due to the panic which air balloons can cause to animals.

After the chickens were discovered, farmer Steve Collins contacted Virgin Balloon Flights who have since offered him compensation and a balloon flight. The pilot also visited the farm to apologise.

A spokesman from Virgin said: “One of our balloons took off from Quainton Railway Centre carrying 16 passengers on Friday morning and landed just south of the village of Haddenham around an hour later. During the flight the balloon flew over Bradmoor Farm on Stanbridge Road.

“The farm is not marked as an area to avoid on ballooning maps and the balloon was at the legally required height. The pilot was unaware of any incident until receiving information later and returned to the farm immediately. In his 25 years of flying he has not known chickens react like this, but he is very sorry.”