Avian Influenza

AVIAN INFLUENZA UPDATE, 07/12/2020
From 14th December 2020 a housing order comes into force across the UK. All poultry will need to be kept under cover, away from wild birds from that date until further government advice.

Read tips on how you can house and keep your hens entertained during what is now their lockdown here.

At this stage we are all able to allow our birds to continue free ranging, but as a result of the outbreaks there are various steps we advise you take to help keep your hens safe and to comply with government guidance, see below.
  1. Keep feed and water undercover where possible
  2. Minimise the contact between wild birds and your hens
  3. Maintain good biosecurity and husbandry

More detailed information here on specific areas affected by outbreaks.

Avian influenza FAQs

From 14th December 2020 a housing order comes into force across the UK. All poultry will need to be kept under cover, away from wild birds from that date until further government advice.
There is no vaccine available currently.

You should do your best to minimise contact between wild waterfowl and your poultry; try to net ponds and don’t feed wild birds nearby.

Move any bird feeders well away from your poultry to minimise contact. Always clear up spilled feed.

Ideally yes. A simple boot dip using a plastic storage box or tray and ideally a viruscidal disinfectant will be an effective safeguard. We recommend Virkon which can be purchased in small sachets from your local country store.

All poultry gatherings are currently prohibited.

We have received written approval from DEFRA allowing us to continue rehoming hens. DEFRA advises that under the Avian Flu Prevention Zone rules on bird gatherings (the risk assessment is available here), we do not fall into the category that prevents us rehoming.

Whilst we are delighted we can continue saving hens from slaughter, we will only rehome to those who can assure us they can keep their hens undercover and away from wild birds. Anyone wanting to top up a current flock will need to have covered facilities and the ability to keep new birds away from any existing birds until they have had a chance to settle in.

Of course, as well as meeting careful rehoming rules, we will also continue to observe every precaution necessary to manage our rehoming events in a COVID safe way that protects our hens, volunteers, and rehomers as well as the wider egg industry, by meeting strict legal requirements for both the Avian Flu measures and the COVID-19 restrictions.

Rehoming hens

We have received written approval from DEFRA allowing us to continue rehoming hens. DEFRA advises that under the Avian Flu Prevention Zone rules on bird gatherings (the risk assessment is available here), we do not fall into the category that prevents us rehoming.

Whilst we are delighted we can continue saving hens from slaughter, we will only rehome to those who can assure us they can keep their hens undercover and away from wild birds. Anyone wanting to top up a current flock will need to have covered facilities and the ability to keep new birds away from any existing birds until they have had a chance to settle in.

Of course, as well as meeting careful rehoming rules, we will also continue to observe every precaution necessary to manage our rehoming events in a COVID safe way that protects our hens, volunteers, and rehomers as well as the wider egg industry, by meeting strict legal requirements for both the Avian Flu measures and the COVID-19 restrictions.

Inevitably the arrival of bird flu in the UK may extend the period in which we are unable to rehome hens, but we are monitoring the situation on a daily basis and assure you we will get back into action as soon as we are safely able to.

Please watch our updates.

Avian Influenza Information
Avian influenza does not have a vaccine and therefore you should be aware of what to do in the event of an outbreak in your area. Please see our advice on avian flu here or below.

Your poultry their health

Helpful guidance on keeping your hens safe in the event of a notifiable disease, such as avian influenza. It may never happen, but being forewarned makes you forearmed.

The information is to help you understand when there is a serious problem so you can take appropriate action. Disease amongst poultry can spread FAST and knowing what to do as a responsible poultry keeper is vital.

Be Flock Wise – register your hens on the Great Britain Poultry Register (GBPR)

We recommend all keepers of pet birds and flocks, small and large, register their birds on the GBPR. Click here to register.  You can also sign up online to a separate service from APHA to receive free alerts of any outbreaks of avian flu in Great Britain. This advice has been agreed by the BHWT with Defra, Scottish Government and Welsh Government.

What action should you or your vet take if you suspect avian influenza?

Contact any one of the following; they will be able to help you:

  • Your local poultry-friendly vet
  • APHA (a DEFRA department specialising in notifiable diseases) – In England contact 03000 200 301
  • In Wales, contact 0300 303 8268
  • In Scotland, contact your local Field Services Office

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