Thursday, 23 February 2017

Jobs to Do Before the Avian Flu Restrictions are Relaxed

If you are lucky enough to live in an area where the Avian Flu restrictions are going to be relaxed after the 28th February then you are probably excited to see your chickens out and about once more. However before you let them run free, there are a few jobs you need to take in hand.

Firstly (and most importantly) are you able to let your hens out or are you still within one of the remaining prevention zones? Check the interactive DEFRA map to see if, come February 28th, your hens are allowed out and what remaining restrictions may apply.

Avian Flu Restrictions & DEFRA
Silver Spangled Hamburg
However, there are still jobs to be done around the hen house, especially after all of our hens have been cooped up for just over two months.

  1. Kill Vermin - With all our hens having been contained for so long the chances of rats and mice being attracted to feeders and spilt feed around your run may have increased. The best solution is to get rid of them. Properly positioned lockable bait boxes are the way forward, keeping wild birds, pets and children safe while disposing of rats and mice. Equally tidying up any loose feed and around feeders (where hens can make a mess) will help deter any further vermin problems. 
  2. Treat the Ground - Even in covered runs the ground is possibly beginning to look "fowl sick" after such an intensive couple of months. If letting your hens out into a wider area remove any obvious signs of possible contaminant, then treat the ground with a Ground Sanitising Powder or Virkon-S Disinfectant. This will not only safely guard against Avian Flu, but also aid in more common poultry problems, such as worms. 
  3. Cleaning the Hen House - Similar to treating your poultry run or outside area, your chicken coop will need some maintenance and a thorough deep clean. It is easy when the hens are contained to allow the hen house to get into a bit of a state, but liquid cleaners and Flyte Coop and Run Sanitising Powder should be used to make sure that every nook and cranny of your hen house is clean and hygienic for your hens. 
  4. Feeders & Drinkers - You hens may be heading back outside, however, their feeders and drinkers need to remain covered and out of the way of attracting wild birds. Putting them inside a shelter or under a covered area within a run will help prevent contamination from wild bird faeces or direct contact. 
The last point is to double, triple and quadruple check the interactive map regarding what restrictions may be being lifted, or remaining in place, in your area. Some areas will still have the Avian Flu restrictions in place, so make sure you understand what your hens are allowed to do. The fines for not following the rules remain in place.

If you are and your chickens are still restricted by the regulations then read our previous blog entry, 6 Top Tips for Surviving Bird Flu, to help you and your hens until the restrictions are lifted. 

If you have any questions why not leave a comment below, or call us on 01300 345229 to speak to a member of the Flyte so Fancy team. 

Thanks for Reading

Friday, 10 February 2017

Plans to Relax the UK’s Avian Flu Housing Restrictions

After 28th February keeping your poultry housed will no longer be mandatory and only if your birds are located outside The High Risk Areas.

Flyte So Fancy's bird flu measures

With the Bird Flu Prevention Zone Measures due to expire on 28th February and the need for clarification regarding the UK’s Free-Range bird status, DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) have recently issued their proposals to lift the housing order from the end of February in some areas.

As poultry keepers ourselves we understand that the welfare of your flock is a priority and this is the news that all of our bored poultry have been waiting to hear! But wait. There are some preparations you need to make.

1.  Search the DEFRA Avian Flu Risk map

To identify the risk of Avian Flu to your flock, DEFRA have created an interactive map which defines the Higher Risk Areas in England See the Interactive Map here to find out if you fall within any restriction zones imposed by DEFRA.

2.  Identify the risk to your flock

The Protection Zone : Controls imposed if you are within a 3km radius exclusion zone around premises affected by confirmed cases of H5N8.
A Surveillance Zone : Restrictions imposed due to being within a10km radius of an affected premises.
Proposed Higher Risk Areas : Generally, these are areas which are near where wild birds (and in particular gulls and wild waterfowl) gather, such as lakes, marshes or estuaries; they include areas where cases of the avian flu H5N8 virus has been found.
Not currently in a Higher Risk Area? : Keep a check on the map as updates may mean that the areas change as new information gets recorded.

3. Choose a housing option most suited to you and your circumstances

Having ascertained which area or zone your flock falls, then all keepers of poultry and captive birds will also need to adopt one of the following three methods of separating their birds from wild birds and in particular from wild waterfowl:

a) Housing: Open to all areas of England / All zones. 
Although it is likely to provide the best protection for your birds from Avian Flu, keeping poultry housed will no longer be mandatory from 28th February. If you continue to keep your birds housed in temporary or permanent accommodation, then bird welfare must be monitored and suitable steps taken to ensure that the environment is suitably enriched –see our earlier blog 6 Top Tips to help your hens survive Bird FluContinued confinement is likely to affect your ‘free-range’ marketing status.

b) Total netting / aviaries / covered runs: Open to all areas of England / All Zones 
Allowing birds outdoors but only into a fenced run which is fully covered. Many of us have favoured this option throughout the Prevention Zone restrictions, keeping our flock separate from wild birds whilst maintaining room to scratch about and avoid boredom. If you have made do with a temporary structure and you are now considering erecting a more permanent solution, see our Poultry Protection Pens for secure and safe poultry runs.

c) Supervised access to enclosed outdoor areas: Only available after 28th February to areas outside the ‘Higher Risk Areas’ after a risk assessment.

There are some restrictions and to take advantage of this option, keepers will need to meet certain conditions. 
  • Areas must be made unattractive to wild birds, for example ponds have been netted, wild bird food sources removed
  • Action must be taken to reduce any existing contamination, such as cleansing and disinfecting concrete areas, ensure wet/boggy areas are fenced off
  • Assessments must be made of the risk of birds coming into contact with wild birds or contamination from them.
  • You will need to make sure that outside areas (ranges) are fully fenced and that birds are not allowed to roam outside this fenced area.  This area must not include ponds or other areas of standing water.
  • Where possible, you should not allow domestic ducks or geese to range alongside other types of poultry.  
To see the full measures, see Annex 4 of DEFRA's Planned controls in England from 28 February 2017 here. Anyone planning to allow their birds outdoors from 28 February should begin to prepare now.  

Flyte so Fancy Electric Fencing for Chickens
Electric Fencing is ideal for separating and containing poultry

4. Maintain bio security measures

Irrespective of the number of birds or how they are kept, keepers of poultry and other captive birds must adopt these bio security measures at all times.
  • Take all reasonable precautions to avoid the transfer of contamination between premises, including cleansing and disinfection of paths, equipment, vehicles and footwear, See our DEFRA approved product range of disinfectants here 
  • Reduce the movement of people, vehicles or equipment to and from areas where poultry or captive birds are kept; 
  • Ensure feed, water and bedding has not been contaminated by or been in contact with wild birds and in particular gulls and waterfowl; 
  • Implement effective vermin control where poultry or captive birds are kept. See our range of baits and bait boxes here
  • Records must be kept of all vehicles and people that enter the part of a premises where poultry are kept. For sites with over 50 birds, foot dips containing a Defra-approved disinfectant should be used on entry and exit to both houses and outdoor areas/range where the birds are kept.
These measures will provisionally remain in place until the end of April 2017. This approach remains under review and is subject to change, with a final decision being confirmed at the end of February 2017.

If you have any questions why not leave a comment below or phone the FSF Team on 01300 345229. For the most up to date information and downloadable PDF copy of DEFRA's Planned controls in England from 28 February 2017 or for or keepers with over 1,000 birds visit website

Thanks for Reading