Over the last year, the UK has faced its largest ever outbreak of Avian Influenza (AI), with over 200 cases confirmed.
On the 7th November, a national housing order will be introduced across England, meaning that there is a legal requirement for all bird keepers to keep their birds indoors and to follow enhanced biosecurity measures, regardless of the size of the flock.
Our simple guide below outlines ways in which you can help to reduce the risk that AI poses to your flock.
- Although housing birds helps to reduce the risk of bird flu, housing alone will not fully protect birds and so biosecurity is of upmost importance. Regularly disinfect housing, hard surfaces and feeders and drinkers with a disinfectant which has been approved by DEFRA and tested to kill off the AI virus, such as Nettex Virocur, Progiene Coxicur, or Virkon S.
- Clean footwear before and after visiting your birds. Put a footbath, such as the Progiene Boot Dipper, either outside or just inside your run and ensuring that you dip your feet before entering and on exit.
- Minimise the movement of people, vehicles, and equipment to and from areas where poultry are kept.
- Consider your rodent control as part of your biosecurity measures, as rodents can be vectors in spreading AI.
- Remain vigilant and ensure that you are aware of the clinical signs of bird flu. If you suspect that your birds might have AI report it immediately by calling the DEFRA Rural Services Helpline on 03000 200 301.
- We would recommend registering your flock at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/poultry-including-game-birds-registration-rules-and-forms to keep up to date with the latest news and to receive free alerts of any outbreaks of AI in your area.
As your birds will be confined to their housing for an extended period, it is also important to ensure that you provide enough living space. There are no specific regulations for backyard owners, however, as a guide we would recommend that you have at least 4ft square of space per bird. Also, think about adding some enrichment (e.g. dustbaths, perches, and flowerpots) to limit boredom. Alternatively, keep your hens occupied with a supplementary treat, such as the Mole Valley Farmers Toasted Maize Treat, to help encourage scratch feeding. Consider a bedding for its insulation benefits and natural anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties. Ensure that this is cleaned out regularly to help keep the environment as hygienic as possible.
Keep an eye out for #BirdFlu highlighted products throughout our store and online at moleonline.com/birdflu and if you would like any further advice, please call or visit your local Mole Valley Farmers or Mole Country Stores.