The theft of a trailer carrying 36 empty hen crates from the home of a British Hen Welfare Trust volunteer could result in poultry deaths, the organisation has said.

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The national charity re-homes commercial laying hens, educates the public about how they can make a difference to hen welfare, and encourages support for the British egg industry.

Melanie Catley, Hertfordshire co-ordinator for the Trust, discovered the theft on Friday morning at her home in Thaxted.

Despite security measures the thieves broke in through a locked gate, disabled the trailer lock and drove the vehicle out through a hedge and fence.

The trailer was fully loaded with crates in preparation for a hen rescue next weekend and had a distinctive bespoke bright blue tarpaulin with the Trust’s red hen logo.

Ms Catley said: “The trailer and crates are vital to the charity and enable us to save many thousands of hen lives every year. I can’t believe that someone would be so cold-hearted as to steal from a charity that saves lives.

“Replacing the crates and trailer will take time and money, and will inevitably impact on our ability to host hen collections in the short term.”

The trailer was a double-axle Ifor Williams trailer carrying distinctive red poultry crates with white doors. The tarpaulin is distinctive and may have been discarded.

Anyone with information is urged to contact the charity on 01884 860084.

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