IT MIGHT sound like the start of a joke, but chickens on the motorway are included in a list of the astonishing sights recorded by traffic cameras.
Other bizarre antics include two little girls cycling alongside fast- moving traffic and a man dumping a sofa in the fast lane.
Traffic Wales officials have also seen heavy carpets being left on the motorway, a flock of sheep wandering on to the carriageway and a man dressed as Santa being tied to a gantry.
Officials who caught the incidents on CCTV, including a flock of chickens crossing the road, have published a top 10 of dangerous and unusual incidents witnessed on the M4 in Wales in the past few years.
Yesterday the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents condemned the dumping of furniture on the M4 as "lethal". And the RAC Foundation said the two girls pedalling their way along the motorway was "beyond belief".
Saska Shepherd, of Traffic Wales, which monitors the motorway 24 hours a day, said the girls were spotted on the hard shoulder at Newport last year.
She said, "Of course we were horrified but by the time a police car was dispatched, they cycled off through a gap in a hedge and could not be found."
The sofa was dumped in the M4 fast lane last year at Cardiff Gate. Fortunately motorists spotted it and managed to avoid it with-out accident until it was cleared.
Traffic Wales has 97 cameras on the M4 and Saska Shepherd said it was clear some people simply did not appreciate the danger of motorways.
She said yesterday, "We've seen all sorts of things. Animals and humans on the carriageway are one of the most common things but there have been some weird things too.
"Probably the most worrying was the two little girls; both looked under the age of 10 and were within inches of fast-moving trucks and cars.
"It was really worrying because anything could have happened to them and all we could do was sit and watch them."
A spokeswoman for RoSPA said yesterday, "When used properly, motorways are the safest way to travel. But motorway rules have to be adhered to at all times and loads must be securely fixed."
Edmund King, executive director of the RAC Foundation, said yesterday, "It's beyond belief.
"Yet you only have to look at the side of motorways to see everything from suitcases and wheels to even kitchen sinks. It's amazing but some people really do use motorways as dumping grounds.
"Obviously things fall off vehicles and that can be easily remedied by simple checks before setting out. But to hear people deliberately dump items in the roadway is astonishing."
Traffic Wales' 10 strangest sites
1. A man dressed as Father Christmas tied to a gantry.
2. Two small girls cycling along the hard shoulder near Newport.
3. More than 200 army trucks in convoy on one day.
4. Thousands of tiny polystyrene balls filling the carriageway (escaped from a lorry).
5. A bull charging along the M4.
6. A flock of sheep on the roadway.
7. Stray horses.
8. Flocks of chickens.
9. A pig running loose near the Second Severn Crossing.
10. Fence posts falling off a lorry and carpets and a sofa being dumped.