STUDENTS at St Michael’s Catholic School got an upsetting welcome after the recent holidays with news some of their beloved chickens had been stolen over the break.
Fund-raising for the chook pen and its construction came from a number of chook auctions staged in Berry by the Shoalhaven Poultry Group.
The two hens and a rooster were stolen some time on Monday.
Principal Chris Paton said the children and particularly members of the school’s environmental group that look after the chickens, were heartbroken by the theft.
“Why break in and steal chooks?” he said.
“It’s a pretty lousy thing to do.
“It’s devastated the kids that look after them. They have built up great relationships with the chickens and are really missing them.
“We believe the theft happened some time on Monday. They were there on Sunday morning after mass.
“We have had staff regularly checking and feeding them over the break, as we do each holiday.
“They were there Sunday but gone Monday.”
The school’s chicken pen is located in the centre of the school, next to the oval, and the thieves had to scale security fences to gain access to the school grounds.
They then managed to remove the padlock into the coop before making off with the birds.
Stolen in the theft were Robbie the Rooster, a Pekin buff, a Pekin buff hen known as Loner and an Isa brown known as Schnitzel.
It leaves the school with a solitary Isa brown known as Dusty.
School environmental leaders Jasmine Harvey, Madison Barca and Erin Findlay still hold out hope that the stolen chickens will be returned.
The trio spend most lunch breaks cleaning up the coop, feeding the birds, collecting the eggs and ensuring they have fresh water.
“It’s pretty sad,” Jasmine said.
“Why steal chickens that give so many children in the school joy?” said the year 6 student.
“Jasmine came up to me when we first got back to school on Tuesday and said the chickens had been stolen,” Madison said.
“I thought she was joking.”
Erin said word spread quickly around the school about the theft.
“The children were really upset,” she said.
“It is heartbreaking, we have spent the last year or so looking after the birds,” Jasmine said.
“We now only have one poor chicken left, Dusty, and she is looking pretty scared and lonely.
“We just hope that whoever stole the chickens returns them.”