DEFRA has told Poultry owners in the UK to keep their chickens and other poultry away from wild birds to help prevent the spread of Avian Influenza (bird flu). What started out as a 30 day restriction has had extensions which for many has meant their normally free ranging chickens have been confined for over 3 months now.
Paula : We now have a different issue here in England as Avian Influenza has taken hold in Europe and the north of Scotland. There is a 30 day restriction in which we need to keep our hens inside. Mine are used to free ranging so it will be very stressful for them (and me), to be confined until the 6th January.
I have cobbled together an additional run using: old garden tables; plastic fence trellis and tarpaulin at the rear of the coop. At the front I have attached a run from the first coop I bought in May. I make sure they have lots to scratch in and boredom busters etc.
My Reply : It looks like they are going to have quite a fun time in there 🙂 I feel bad for my chickens being restricted too but so far there haven’t been too many complaints from them. Defra does say that if it is not practical to keep them confined to their housing then there must be complete separation from wild birds (in addition to good biosecurity) so there may be other ways to achieve that but in most cases it probably will be easiest just to keep them in their housing and runs.
You can get full information about bird flu and the measures currently in force from the uk government website here : https://www.gov.uk/guidance/avian-influenza-bird-flu including a pdf guide aimed at people with backyard flocks “How to keep your birds safe from avian influenza (bird flu)“, a guide about the extra biosecurity measures needed “Biosecurity and preventing disease in captive birds” and “Detailed advice on the Prevention Zone controls in England from 28 February 2017” (the most recent guidelines at the time of writing).
How To Spot Avian Influenza
There are 2 types of avian influenza.
Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) is the more serious type. It is often fatal in birds. The main clinical signs of HPAI in birds are:
blue discolouration of neck and throat
loss of appetite
respiratory distress such as gaping beak, coughing, sneezing, gurgling, rattling
fewer eggs laid
Clinical signs can vary between species of bird and some species may show minimal clinical signs (ducks and geese).
Low pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI) is usually less serious. It can cause mild breathing problems, but affected birds will not always show clear signs of infection.
“H5N8 is a notifiable avian disease. It remains the case that anyone who suspects their birds of having avian influenza should discuss this as a matter of urgency with a private veterinarian. If suspicion of AI cannot be ruled out then it must be reported to Defra/APHA“