Noisy cockerel told to pipe down
A noisy cockerel has been ruffling feathers in a small hamlet after attracting complaints about its crowing.
The chorus of Coco the two-year-old Light Sussex cockerel has landed mystified owners Alison and Kevin Oliver with a letter from an environmental health officer about "alleged noise nuisance".
The letter, while not a legal notice, advises on how best to keep Coco's crowing to a minimum in Coles Green near Malvern, Worcestershire.
Worcestershire Regulatory Services which sent the letter said it was acting after receiving a complaint about the noise and went on to set out several measures which could be adopted "to minimise cockerel crowing".
Mr and Mrs Oliver said chickens had been kept on the same patch of their family's land, a stone's throw from their rural small-holding, since 1977 and without a single complaint - until now.
Mrs Oliver said: "I was shocked when I actually read the letter and my friends thought it was some sort of joke".
Her husband said he just "laughed" when he read the advisory note.
"We have taken it seriously, but we've also joked that it's like he's been given an Asbo (anti social behaviour order)," said Mr Oliver.
The letter suggests Coco's noise could be kept to a minimum by keeping him "in a hen house until 7am" and ensuring he cannot see the sunrise.
It goes on to suggest limiting his natural urge to "compete when crowing" with neighbouring cockerels, on surrounding farmland, and to "consider ways to reduce this competition".
However, Mr Oliver said Coco and the 40 chickens and ducks in their chicken runs are not let out until after 7am, while the hen house windows have been boarded up since 2006.
The letter states: "Although the complaint has not as yet been investigated by this department I am bringing the matter to your attention in order to give you an opportunity to take any action you may consider appropriate."
It reads that under the provisions of the Environmental Protection Act "it is an offence to cause a statutory noise nuisance to neighbouring residents.
"However there is no set level of noise allowed - the minimum criteria being reasonableness."
Mrs Oliver said none of the neighbours she had spoken to since receiving the letter last month had expressed any issues.
She has since written back to the environmental health department, and there has been no further action top date.
The couple, who take their chicks into the local Broadwas Primary School and a Beaver Scouts group in nearby Malvern to help teach pupils about life cycles, added they were "mystified" how anybody living in the countryside could consider a cockerel's crowing a nuisance.
Mrs Oliver said: "I wish they (environmental health) had phoned and checked first, rather than it being an official letter but I suppose it's a process they have to go through when they get a complaint.
"I did invite them to come and see the chicken runs but I haven't heard anything back."
She added: "I don't want to upset the neighbours, and the ones I have spoken have just been in disbelief that someone has complained.
"I mean, it's the cockerel's job to make a noise.
"They are supposed to alarm the chickens to predators like foxes, and we have plenty of those around here."