CHICKENS were killed when arsonists set fire to a hut in a ‘sickening’ attack at a community-run Sheffield farm.
The dead birds were found by shocked volunteers at Loxley Valley Community Farm after the blaze but most chickens managed to escape the flames.
People who manage the smallholding for the community say the cost of the damage is around £2,000.
Farm director Warren Trippett, of Loxley, said: “It is sickening that people can set fire to something with animals inside.
“At first we thought the shed had just been damaged and the chickens had been let out. It was really upsetting for people to find some dead chicken corpses.
“At least two and possibly more have died because four are missing.
“There were about 30 chickens in there, some have little bits of burnt plastic on them where they struggled to get out.”
Police are treating the incident as suspected arson and appealing for witnesses.
The farm, off South View Rise in Loxley, was also targeted just three weeks ago when a storage shed was set alight.
Volunteers are now stepping up security, with an anonymous donation made after the latest fire being spent on safety measures.
Members of the farm are said to be ‘devastated’ and are asking local people to be vigilant of suspicious activities on land nearby.
Wendy Burroughes, also a director of the food co-operative, said: “We are very upset that anyone would purposefully start a fire on a farm run entirely by volunteers for the benefit of the community.
“Not only have we now suffered significant financial loss but we have also had a malicious attack on our animals.
“We were already looking to improve the perimeter fencing.
“However this attack has obviously taken things to a new level, security is now a major concern.
“We will have to rethink our future plans.
“But we are determined to continue to build on the success of the farm and the community we have grown.
“The police and the RSPCA have been informed and we are working with them to catch the individuals involved.”
The fire happened between the evening of Friday March 30 and the early hours of Saturday March 31.
n Witnesses, or anyone who may have seen something suspicious, can call police on 101 quoting incident number 312 of 31 March 2012.