Avian Flu Outbreak: How To Protect Your Flock

The rapid escalation of the evolving Bird Flu outbreak will be causing bird keepers concern. We have been trying to keep ahead of the developing news and we are dedicated to presenting that information to you in a simple easy-to-digest way.

If you are looking for information about the developing situation as well as solutions for how to protect and house your birds to protect them from Avian Flu take a read of our blog post.

What Is Avian Flu?

Bird flu is a type of influenza, it is a virus that impacts the respiratory and digestive tracts of infected birds. Bird flu is separated into two categories: highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) and low pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI), we are currently experiencing an outbreak of H5N1 which is the highly pathogenic type.

The Chief Veterinary Officer for the U.K has stated it is 'the largest ever outbreak of bird flu and are seeing rapid escalation in the number of cases on commercial farms and in backyard birds across England.'

What to look for;

Birds that are infected with highly pathogenic avian influenza could exhibit one or more of the following clinical signs: sudden death; lack of energy and appetite; decreased egg production; soft-shelled or misshapen eggs; swelling; purple discolouration; nasal discharge; coughing, sneezing; lack of coordination and diarrhoea. 

If you notice these symptoms in your birds or wild birds you can report it to Defra immediately - 03000 200 301.

What Are The Rules And Regulations For Bird Keepers?

From Monday 7th November it will be a legal requirement for 'all bird keepers to keep their birds indoors and to follow stringent biosecurity measures to help protect their flocks from the disease, regardless of type or size'.

This means that whether you have 2 chickens in your backyard or a large free range-flock you need to take measures to house them in a solid structure. This doesn't necessarily mean a purpose-built building, the regulations offer alternative structures such as sheds or polytunnels, providing they have adequate light and ventilation.

Where it is not possible to put your birds into a solid structured house you must take measures to stop them from mixing with wild birds. This can be achieved by placing them in an enclosure or temporary structure that is covered in mesh with holes no greater than 2-5cm.

Care should be taken to block holes or gaps where wild birds may be able to get in, keeping your birds contained and unable to mix with wild birds is critical.

Bedding and feed must be stored in a sheltered enclosed area and when you provide food and water to your flock it must be done indoors.

Whilst the requirements may seem excessive the Chief Veterinary Office for the U.K has stated that 'Scrupulous biosecurity and separating flocks in all ways from wild birds remain the best form of defence.'

How Can You Protect Your Flock Against Avian Flu?

Building a purpose-built solid structure at such short notice is unlikely to be convenient, but with the legal requirements clear there are some ways to achieve maximum protection quickly and cost-effectively. 

Our 3 x 2 m polytunnel will offer an enclosed area to your flock, the tall height allows you to walk in and the framework will allow for the easy instalment of makeshift perches etc.

They are in stock and can be delivered within a few working days.

Learn More About Our Polytunnel

What If I Am Unable To Build A Solid Structure?

Building a solid enclosure may not be possible in such a short amount of time, and depending on materials and the craftmanship needed it may not be financially viable. The legal requirements acknowledge that where this is impossible an 'enclosure or temporary structure' is fine providing it is covered in mesh with holes measuring no more than 2-5cm.

Our walk-in chicken run range will be suitable for this type of defence against avian flu whilst also offering your flock plenty of roaming and scratching space.

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