Following a DEFRA ruling on 6th December, poultry keepers across Great Britain must now keep chickens, hens, ducks and turkeys housed indoors where practicable, ensuring they are separated from wild birds.
Any bird can become infected, and avian 'flu can be deadly to people as well as birds.
Small poultry keepers should take precautions to keep themselves and their flocks safe and prevent the spread of disease.
Any flock found to be affected will be culled.
Clare Hitchman, poultry keeper and Nettex Account Manager, gives her tips on keeping birds safe and happy during confinement.
- Use pond netting or other small hole-wire to surround your poultry house, and run on all sides to prevent wild birds sharing food / water sources.
- The roof of a run can be temporarily covered with plywood or clear plastic sheeting.
- Clean feeding and drinking equipment regularly with Viratec P Poultry Disinfectant or Poultry 4 in 1 Disinfectant
to minimise cross contamination.
- Temporarily remove all wild bird feeders, drinkers and bathing stations to discourage them from visiting your garden.
- Add extra interest into your run such as hanging cabbage or swede for them to peck (mine love butternut squash). CDs hung at chicken head height give zero calorie amusement, which is good when they have restricted movement.
- Use extra ground sanitizing powder in the run and house as they will be spending more time closer together than usual.
- Prevent as much chicken contact as possible from pets or humans that have been off site. You should wear clean boots and coats when tending your chickens.
- Any suspect signs of avian 'flu must be reported to DEFRA. These may include:
- sudden unexplained death
- lack of co-ordination
- purple discolouration of wattle, comb and legs
- lack of energy and appetite
- swelling of the soft tissues of the face
- mucous coming from the nares
- You must tell your nearest Animal and Plant and Health Agency (APHA) office immediately. Failure to do so is an offence. Do not touch the birds.
Full and updated details of the Avian 'Flu situation and prevention zones can be found on the DEFRA website.