Five chickens were found in "cramped" conditions after being squeezed into a bucket and left without food or water.
The RSPCA is investigating after the Bantam-type birds were discovered in the bucket with a piece of wood placed on top in an alley off Broadwood Road in Bestwood, Nottingham.
They had been placed in an empty Ronseal container and abandoned before being discovered by a member of the public last Friday.
RSPCA inspector Dave McAdam said: "They were kept in incredibly cramped conditions and had no access to food and water. We can't say for sure how long they had been in this situation for; however, they were suffering unnecessarily.
"It is saddening that owners feel the need to abandon animals for whatever reason.
"Had they not been found, they would have likely been attacked by foxes or cats."
The birds are now being looked after by the RSPCA and anyone with information is asked to call 0300 123 8018.