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Defra rules and a determined hen story!

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Hi all, Haven't logged on in a while but with everything in the news I thought I'd see what everyone has to say about the new 4 week 'imprisonment' for our free-range girls, and have read the main thread with interest..


My 5 chooks normally live in an 8' x 8' shed at night, with access to an (uncovered) 100ft run, and then free range of an acre in an afternoon (lucky ladies!)


Due to the new rules, the only covered place is their night time shed, which is technically 'fine' as far as size requirements go, but my problem comes with a particularly determined Ginger lady GNR


She is a constant escapee, no amount of 6ft high mesh has managed to keep her contained in the run - no idea how she does it but every defence we put up she finds a new way around. She finds whichever room we are in in the house, and will sit on our kitchen windowsill which is about 5ft off the ground from outside. :wall: (yes her wings are clipped!).

Anyway, every morning she manages to escape, and a few months ago, decided she would rather lay under a holly bush on the other side of the house - a good 10 minute hike for her. Hilariously we also needed a ladle taped to a broomstick to retrieve the eggs! :shameonu:

Since then she has changed her place to lay and is now escaping on a morning, laying under a bush (thankfully a lot nearer to her coop now).


I have tried to keep her shut in the shed until around 11/12pm when she should have laid at 7/8am.... and all she had done was crossed her legs and hung on! I have never seen her run so fast to her laying spot, poor girl.


I don't want to make her egg bound, and she is obviously very determined not to lay in the normal nest box but wait until she is allowed out.


The new rules I'm worried are going to cause her internal harm :( I know it's not technically 'protocol' and we would be flouting the rules but would half an hour in a morning to her laying spot and then straight back, really risk things?


Opinions please, and if I haven't made it obvious...she is a funny but difficult character! I would hate for her to damage herself by waiting and waiting to be let out, I really think she is so stubborn she would wait!

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I had a hen like that!


OK, at the risk of attracting fire ...


These measures are precautionary, and they are not put in place to protect your chickens but to protect commercial interests by trying to prevent the potential spread of the disease to and between commercial institutions. That's where most of the issues are - in all the of the scares I remember there have never (rarely?) been occurrences of infection in small private flocks or of the disease spreading from them. The disease is mainly spread when hens are moved to new flocks from an infected one, or when suppliers (e.g. a feed truck, mentioned elsewhere) travels from an infected flock to an uninfected one without rigorous hygiene measures.


If it were me I'd let her out to lay. The chance she'd catch anything is tiny, and the chance she would pass it on (outside your flock, that is) is tinier still. I tend to want to make my ladies happy and do the necessary, provided there's no clear and present danger, but do take hygiene precautions yourself, and if you can reduce the risk (e.g. with tarpaulin over the laying area), by all means do so.


Sorry Defra ....

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Hi Graham, Thanks for your reply and advice. I liked your most recent post on the 'official' thread. I know these rules mainly apply to the 99% of poultry kept in the UK at farms. It's unfortunate that our garden birds have to suffer for the precautionary measures that will likely only affect large flocks of thousands.

I too am unwilling to cause her to suffer because of something that isn't in the UK yet. But I know these things have to start somewhere and if everyone decided to ignore the rules I would be the first to complain.

Because neither me or my birds come into contact with any other poultry I am sure I won't be the one that this potential outbreak affects or spreads to others. But nevertheless I will keep my other 4 in, 24 hours a day. I am likely to keep this girl in for 23 hours a day :wink:

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the rules apply to all bird keepers the risk of infection is the same for all but it's the 'cost' of and outbreak that is bigger for the commercial keepers on paper.

through personalty I think back yard keepers like our selves would a bare higher 'cost' if we were to lose our flock both financially (relative to the size of our flocks) and emotionally . the commercial flocks I assume carry insurance and might by eligible for a bit of compensation if the flock is culled under orders of the ministry

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"...the risk of infection is the same for all ...".


I don't know enough to be sure, and I'm sure that commercial institutions will test their flocks whereas smallholders won't, so numbers might be biased (though we currently have to report all fowl deaths for checking), but so far in Lower Saxony, where I am, there have been 500 occurrences found in wild waterfowl and 16 cases found in commercial farms ... and none at all in private flocks. I think the chances of cross infection are just not there as much for domestic keepers.

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