As the old adage goes, prevention is better than cure, and this is certainly true when it comes to bio security. Following last year’s outbreak of Avian Influenza, chicken owners are waiting with bated breath to see if we’re heading for another flockdown this winter. The good news is, you can never be too prepared and when good bio security is practiced, the need for an enforced housing order may be reduced.
The Avian Influenza virus (AI) is a notifiable disease which can be easily spread by wild birds via droppings and fomites. Basically, dust and dander if you’re wondering. However, birds don’t conveniently leave their droppings in one place which means the risk of walking through infected droppings and carrying the virus on your boots or shoes and then onto your own hens is a real risk.
However, there is something that you can easily do to lessen and even eliminate this threat, provide a boot dip at the entrance to your hen house or covered run.
Boot dipping is an excellent practice to get into during the rainy muddy weather as it stops the spread of diseases and helps to keep your hens’ environment as clean as possible – no mean feat during the torrential rain of the great British autumn, we know!
Whilst you can purchase a professional boot dip there are many easy options for making a homemade boot dip out of things you probably have at home already…
How to make a boot dip at home
Most of us have a large plastic storage box or a recycling box that can be used as a makeshift boot dip. You should choose something sturdy, ideally with a lid or cover so that the rain does not dilute or overflow your chosen receptacle.
You need to be able to get your whole shoe or boot into the box to cover the sole and the sides of your footwear (which should obviously be waterproof). Provide a small hand brush to help loosen and remove any mud and bedding.
Dip each foot in turn before you go into your hen run and when you leave. If you have several covered hen runs, a boot dip for each is the ideal option.
A boot dip is only as effective as the disinfectant that you use in it and a DEFRA-approved virucidal disinfectant is what you should choose. Virkon S and Nettex Poultry Virocur are both safe and effective and available in our online shop.
To learn more about how to create your own boot dip at home, check out the video below from Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA).
Top Tip: if you are unable to include a boot dip in your run, keeping a spare pair of boots or shoes in a covered box, which you can change into to enter the run will help to minimise contamination.