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.

Update 25 April 2022

The UK Chief Veterinary Officers have announced that the mandatory housing measures for poultry and captive birds will be lifted across the UK from 00:01 on Monday 2 May 2022. The Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) will remain in force across the UK until further notice, with only the housing measures component being lifted from 00:01 on the 2 May 2022. This means all bird keepers (whether they have pet birds, a commercial or a backyard flock) must continue to take effective and precautionary biosecurity measures until further notice.

While the risk levels have reduced infection may still be present in the environment. All bird keepers should take proactive measures to prepare outside areas in advance the lifting of the housing measures. See our guidance on the proactive steps you should take before the 2 May 2022 to prepare for when your birds can be let outside again to reduce the risk to your birds.

24th November 2021 - Update

From Monday 29th November housing measures will come into force across the UK meaning your poultry must legally be kept undercover.

Poultry keepers must now do the following:

  • House or net all poultry and captive birds to keep them separate from wild birds

  • Cleanse and disinfect clothing, footwear, equipment and vehicles before and after contact with poultry and captive birds – if practical, use disposable protective clothing

  • Reduce the movement of people, vehicles or equipment to and from areas where poultry and captive birds are kept, to minimise contamination from manure, slurry and other products, and use effective vermin control

  • Thoroughly cleanse and disinfect housing on a continuous basis

  • Keep fresh disinfectant at the right concentration at all farm and poultry housing entry and exit points

  • Minimise direct and indirect contact between poultry and captive birds and wild birds, including making sure all feed and water is not accessible to wild birds

Things to Consider

The disease is brought in by wild birds and their droppings.  To limit risk you need to prevent your poultry having  contact with wild birds.

 

  • Can wild bird droppings fall into the run?

  • Where can wild birds gain access to your poultry and share their feed and water?

  • Can vermin tread in wild bird droppings and carry them into the run?

  • Can you tread in wild bird droppings and walk them into the run on your footwear?

We would suggest the following:

  • If you have waterfowl separate them from poultry.

  • Prevent wild birds accessing your hens feed and water (and don’t forget about their stored bedding and feed).

  • Prevent wild birds accessing your chickens as much as possible, some ideas: 

-  Cover the run with a solid roof or run cover –  have a look at our run covers to cover the top and sides of the run.

-  Use a fine windbreak netting, scaffold net or our clear run sheeting to prevent birds getting in through the sides.

-  Ensure all food and water is undercover.

 

 

 

  • Minimise how often you walk in and out of the chicken’s area to prevent treading contaminated materials into the run.

  • Use a foot dip containing a Defra approved disinfectant or a separate pair of shoes every time you enter the run.  Make sure the container you use for a foot dip has a lid to prevent other animals or birds drinking it and to prevent it become diluted with rainwater.  Underbed storage boxes can be used effectively as foot dips.

  • Use a ground sanitiser regularly on the ground inside the run – Agrisec 250 is a good choice, not only does it dry the ground, it contains Halamid which is Defra approved.

  • Cover any standing water in the garden to stop attracting any wild birds in.

  • Keep on top of vermin – rats and mice will not only carry contaminated material into your hens area but carry other diseases and must be controlled.

  • Monitor your birds health for any signs of illness. Check the Defra website for signs of Avian Flu and if you have any concerns please contact your vet.

  • Ensure you birds are in excellent health with good immunity.  A high quality feed and clean water at all times.  Try adding a multivitamin supplement to the water, our Superseeds make a healthy treat.

  • As your hens are spending more time indoors ensure they don’t get bored. Try:

  • Hanging up veg and treats or our Alfalfa blocks which make an excellent, healthy boredom buster.

  • Ensure they always have something to dig in underfoot.  Chickens spend much of the time digging and it is essential they can fulfil this need to scratch about.  Put woodchips in the run for them to dig in and sprinkle some treats or Super Seeds down for them to find.

  • If your hens are indoors give them a dustbath to clean themselves in.

  • Consider feeding a good quality coarse layers mash (Garvo & Versele Laga both make excellent mash feeds).  Mash takes longer to eat then pellets so keeps the hens busy for longer.

  • If space allows put branches into the run so the hens can jump up, hand treats from the branches.

  • Treat them to a roll of turf if they don’t have access to grass.

Footdip
Green with filaments chicken run cover
Windbreak netting chicken runs
Clear chicken run sheeting
Agrisec 250
Alfalfa in net.jpg
Lodi Sapphire Bait Blocks
Electronic Rat Killer

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 chicken run covers, 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.