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Avian influenza 2020

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It said on the news that the Cheshire factory was producing hatching eggs, so their entire breeding stock of 13,000 has been destroyed. It will take some years to re-establish I think, so the poultry industry will be hit overall for quite some time.

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All birds need to be under cover again from Saturday on over here in the Netherlands. So not just commercial birds anymore.

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One more report in Gloucestershire on Monday and today another two, one in poultry in Herefordshire and one in wild birds in South Devon. Not looking good 🙁

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I am in a high risk area where there are migratory waterfowl so my lot will be in their run from now onwards.  

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I'd be really interested to know how people have/will prep the outdoor areas because of this - we have four rescue girls, an Eglu Go Up with a run extension and a small fenced outdoor area for them. The Eglu run has a full length cover on it already but I'd be interested to know if anyone's added tarpaulin / clear plastic sheeting / any other cover successfully to an outdoor area? I don't think our girls will be too impressed at being kept indoors for potentially months, though if that's what has to happen we will do that! :)

Becki

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I’m in the New Forest and have 4 bantams free-ranging on an acre or so; do they have to be confined to a run now?  Having not kept poultry for over 30 years I’m a bit hazy on this.  The run is covered on the roof but has gaps in the sides.  The chicken would not take kindly to being shut in the run all day, every day.

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To add...I have read the government guidelines and there appears to be a conflict between poultry welfare and confining chicken; if chicken are confined they may indulge in feather-pecking and aggressive behaviour leading to cannibalism  - how can one confine chicken if this may happen?  I have just confined a feather-pecker to try and break the habit and locking up free-rangers will not help this problem.

Is someone able to interpret the restrictions, please?  Should all chicken be shut in a run with a roof even if this may cause welfare issues, even can abolish?  I am confused.

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If your run is big enough, there shouldn’t be an issue with feather pecking and cannibalism. 
Not sure what the UK restrictions are, but over here everything has to be under cover. So no more free ranging.

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Sadly I already have an issue with feather-pecking and they free-range all day.  My question was how can one confine chicken that are not used to being confined which causes welfare issues?  Does the welfare come first or not?  My WIR is big enough for the bantams but not big enough to keep them from getting bored.  They don’t eat cabbage or play with toys, what they like is running full pelt up and down the garden, pecking grass and scratching the soil.  When we first got them they had to stay in the run for more than a week and they were going up and down the wire constantly desperate to get out.

So, must they be locked in the run even if it causes distress to the birds and exacerbates the feather-pecking problem?

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On 11/12/2020 at 10:01 AM, bekibutton said:

I'd be interested to know if anyone's added tarpaulin / clear plastic sheeting / any other cover successfully to an outdoor area?

I haven’t (I have a 4m x 2m WIR attached to a 2m Cube run so that is enough for my 10 bantams even though they prefer not to be shut in all day every day - especially as they’ve got used to being out so much as I’ve been mostly working from home this year) but if we have to close our chickens in later in the winter if avian influenza gets worse I will think about it - thinking of trying to string something between trees 🧐

51 minutes ago, Columbian said:

must they be locked in the run even if it causes distress to the birds and exacerbates the feather-pecking problem?

At the moment, unless you’re very close to one of the outbreaks, the rules don’t require us to keep our chickens shut in in the UK. We just have to keep their food away from wild birds and practice good biosecurity.

However, if the restrictions are tightened then yes, you do have to keep them shut in.

How big is your WIR? 4 bantams shouldn’t need masses of room to be relatively content once they get used to it (usually takes a few days and obviously I know this isn’t the life most of us want for our chooks, but it’s exactly the same as the COVID restrictions - it’s not just about keeping your own birds safe but about reducing the reservoir of disease to help stop it spreading to other wild and commercial populations).

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Like Becki above, our girls are in a small run for overnight safety with a wider open-topped run around them which they use during the day. See picture (first pic is an old one from when the fence first went up, but you get the gist).

Does anyone know what this rule means for runs like this? If I put some kind of soft netting over the top of it all, would that be sufficient? They'll go stir crazy if I have to leave them in the Omlet run only...

Also anyone know how long this rule was in place last time around? Weeks? Months? 😬

What would I do without the Omlet forum to ask these things...

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The idea is to isolate the chickens from wild birds and their droppings. It looks like your outside fence is fairly small weldmesh that wild birds couldn’t get through, so if you covered the whole lot with netting (e.g. soft bird netting that you’d use to keep birds off your veggies), although there is still a risk that some bird droppings would get through, you’d be pretty much doing the job. The regulations say ‘indoors’ but then clarify as follows:-

Whether you keep just a few birds or thousands, from 14 December onwards you will be legally required to keep your birds indoors, or take appropriate steps to keep them separate from wild birds. 
 

  • housing or netting all poultry and captive birds


I think they would prefer a solid (or at least tarpaulin) roof, but I suspect a lot of backyard poultry keepers won’t be able to do that.

Edited by mullethunter
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I’m afraid your chicken area is not DEFRA compliant.    You will need to cover your run to prevent wild birds or droppings contaminating any area that poultry occupy. The mess should be no larger than 1/2 inch.  Sides should be similarly covered.   You should also either keep separate footwear for the chickens area,and / or use a footbath with an approved DEFRA disinfectant.   

If you want to look at pictures of what others are doing join The Hen House FB page or The Omlet Community Chicken Keeping FB Page.  There is time so don’t panic! 

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