A hen has astonished its owners by taking
a litter of puppies under its wing.

The one-year-old, called Mabel, took a shine
to the pups at a farm in Shrewsbury and now
keeps them warm by roosting on top of
them in their dog basket.

Her owners – Edward and Ros Tate – said she
waited until the puppies' mother – Nettle –
left them before hopping into the
basket to keep them warm.

Nettle is now left out in the cold – pining for
her puppies in the yard as they nest
with their adopted mother.

Mr Tate, 43, of The Isle at Bicton Heath, Shropshire,
said: "Mabel was hatched here about a year
ago. She would have gone onto someone’s
dinner plate but we saved her and
brought her into the house."

"Unfortunately, she got into an accident with
a horse, which accidentally trod on her foot.
Because of that she gets terribly cold during
the winter so we decided to bring her
into the house. And then we had the
puppies about three weeks ago. "

Mabel observed Nettles behaviour and
as soon as there was a chance she hopped
into the dog basket to roost on the pups.

"Nettle was a bit startled to say the least –
but she didn't mind too much eventually.
We were amazed when it first happened –
when we saw Mabel here roosting
on the pups – we just laughed."

"We're hoping that soon Mabel will have her
own chicks to look after but I don't think
Nettle will be returning the favour
when that happens."

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