Avian Bird Flu
Bird Flu season usually starts anytime from November onwards and happens to a varying extent most years, seasoned chicken keepers are accustomed to it and generally are set up and ready. Some years it is simply avoiding contact with wild birds by putting feeders and drinkers out of reach and other years it is a total chicken 'lockdown' where they have to be kept indoors/undercover.
Those new to chicken keeping can be very alarmed when the warnings come on the news and it is a serious issue but the preventative steps we are asked to take by Defra (Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs) are good general practice during winter, so well worth adhering too regardless of the current bird flu situation.
3rd January 2021 - Update
The new housing measures implemented by DEFRA, which came into force on 14 December, mean that is now a legal requirement for all bird keepers to keep their birds indoors/under cover and to follow strict biosecurity measures, this means they need to have some sort of roof over them and sides that stop wild bird entry. The priority is ensure your chickens have no contact with wild birds (including wild bird droppings), but please keep checking the Defra website here for all the details as it changes regularly and is different if you are in an area where there is an outbreak.
I would strongly you recommend you register your flock (even if you only have 2 hens). Registration is compulsory if you have more than 50 hens but it is purely so DEFRA can keep you up to date with any disease outbreaks. If you sign up you will get text or email alerts whenever the avian flu rules change or is there a local outbreak. You can sign up here.
Put Food & Water Indoors
Move food & water fully undercover or ideally inside the chicken house to discourage wild birds entering .
Cover the Outdoor Run
Cover with our clear sheeting or ideally put on a solid roof. This will stop wild birds & their droppings getting into your pen.
Avoid walking the Virus In
Disinfect your footwear before walking into the pen to avoid taking wild bird droppings (& the virus) in to the run.
Clean, Tidy & Disinfect
Regularly disinfect with Virkon S &/or Agrisec 250, both effective against Avian Flu. Control rats and mice.
Ensure your hens are in tip top condition with good immunity by feeding them the best diet and giving a good supplement.
Keep your hens confined to their covered run where possible and stop them mixing with any other neighbouring poultry.
If they are being confined to their run keep them entertained with treat blocks or hang up vegetables and fruit in a wild bird fat ball holder or chicken treat holder.
If the run gets muddy or they don't have ground they can dig in, lay the mud management system and a deep layer of softwood wood chips for the hens to scratch in and keep busy and exercised.