Chicken runs: chemical scare turns out to be poultry poo

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FIREFIGHTERS raced to the scene of a suspected chemical incident – and found themselves dealing with poo from 1,000 chickens.

Emergency services were called to a farm near Lauder in the Borders on Wednesday  evening following reports of “a strange smell”.

It was feared a toxic substance was making its way through a network of streams that lead into the River Tweed.

But when 20-strong firefighting team arrived at the Lauder farm in the Borders they found the source of the chaos – a 70x60m shed housing the chickens was two inches deep in sewage.

The water had come from a nearby field and flowed through the shed, picking up a mass of chicken poo before dumping it in a burn that flows into a tributary of the Tweed.

The SSPCA, Scottish Water and Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) were also in attendance.

The animal charity said the chickens were unharmed and being well looked after.

Rescue workers helped drain the land but only farm workers and SEPA stayed to clean the guano.

A Lothian and Borders Fire Service spokeswoman said: “We were called to a suspected chemical incident on Edinburgh Road in Lauder on Wednesday at 17.45pm.

“The source turned out to be chicken effluent – basically chicken poo – that was contaminating a nearby burn.

“A 70 by 60 metre shed with 1,000 chickens had flooded with 5cm of surface water from a nearby field.

“We stemmed the drains to prevent further contamination of surrounding land and water sources.

“The water after being in the shed made its way into a nearby burn that flows into the Leader Water and that then goes into the River Tweed.

“The SSPCA attended to assess the welfare of the chickens – they seemed happy they were being well cared for.

“Scottish Water and SEPA also attended – clean up duties were carried out by SEPA and farm workers.”

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