Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Avian Flu - Advice for Poultry Keepers

On 6 December 2016 the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) announced an Avian Influenza Prevention Zone to help protect poultry from a highly pathogenic strain of avian flu present in Europe. The zone covers the whole of England and will remain in place for 30 days (until 6 January).  (The Scottish and Welsh governments have also ordered that all poultry and captive birds must be kept indoors).

The zone requires the immediate and compulsory housing of domestic chickens, hens, turkeys and ducks, or where this is not practical, their complete separation from contact with wild birds. For farmed geese, game birds and other captive birds, keepers should take practical steps to keep these birds separate from wild birds.
The avian flu disease can spread from bird to bird by direct contact or through contaminated body fluids and faeces. The main risk of infection is likely to come from wild birds.  DEFRA’s prevention zone is a precautionary measure. DON’T PANIC!  We have created a simple checklist to help answer your most common avian flu concerns:- 

1. Keepers are advised to keep poultry inside.

The advice to keep birds ‘inside’ can mean just keeping your birds confined to their run. If you don’t have a run, you could construct a temporary one from old pallets or similar. The main concern is to ensure that wild birds cannot access the run, so any holes in the fence or wire need to be small. 

If you have a garage or shed that the birds can set up a temporary home in, then this is another favoured temporary housing option. The current restriction is in place for 30 days but it may well be extended.  If you would like to purchase a run, we have many sizes and styles to suit a range of budgets and house styles, most of which are in stock.

2. I already have a run but my birds are not ‘inside’

The best way to prevent droppings from wild birds that might have been exposed to avian flu would be to cover your existing run to essentially create a ‘roof’.  The simplest and most cost effective solution is to use a tarpaulin.  Our large PVC Rainshades with bungee fixings are ideal for this.  A more permanent solution could be to cover the roof with polycarbonate sheets or other lightweight roofing materials.

A tarpaulin is cost effective way to protect your birds

3. What if I have to confine my birds to their house?

The current avian flu restriction applies to all poultry and captive birds, yet for some it just not practical to create a run or move birds to an indoor enclosure.  In this instance, birds will need to be confined to their houses or coops.  More frequent cleaning will help to keep the birds clean and the addition of products such as BioDri Sanitising Powder will help alleviate the build up of moisture created by condensation of having birds in a confined space.

Bored birds can begin to get restless and bully each other, to help with this we would recommend items to act as a distraction, such as the boredom buster®  or perhaps a few playful items such as hanging up a cabbage. 

Feeders and Drinkers need to be kept inside, away from contamination, hanging feeders may be an easy option helping to keep the bedding dry and minimise the amount of spilt food in such a confined area.

4. The most effective disinfectant

There are many disinfectants on the market.  Our best advice is to use one that is licensed by DEFRA for Avian FluBi-OO-Cyst and VirKon S Disinfectant are the products that we would recommend using as these can be used for cleaning the house, feeders and drinkers  (rinse with fresh water) and for creating a simple foot bath.

A disinfectant footbath can be anything from washing up bowl to a tub trug, filled with water and disinfectant that can be walked through by all of the family on entering the poultry area.  The Virkon S Disinfectant liquid is probably the most cost effective product as once made up, it can be reused.  Protective and disposable gloves and masks are a practical consideration when handling and cleaning your birds.

In summary; no free ranging | prevent access by wild birds and their droppings | cover your runs | bring feeders and drinkers inside | more frequent cleaning | foot bath before entering | boredom busters |  no movement of livestock | keep vigilant.

Symptoms of Avian Flu and further guidance can be found here.

If you have any concerns about the health of your poultry, seek prompt advice from your vet.

For poultry supplies delivered to your door visit our Flyte So Fancy website here We are doing our very best to stock everything you need to keep your flock happy and healthy until this risk has passed.  If you need guidance about which products to choose, please do give us a call on 01300 345229.

For other useful links and links to our Bird Flu survival supplies, see our other blogs:

On 4 January 2017 DEFRA announced that the Prevention Zones in place across the whole of Great Britain will remain in place until 28 February 2017. With the added advice that Keepers of poultry and captive birds must “house” them away from wild birds. They must maintain their biosecurity and keep a close watch on the health of their birds.

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