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Is it safe to adopt hens during Avian Influenza?

We know that many of our supporters are feeling anxious about adopting during the Avian Influenza lockdown. For months we’ve hung back from rehoming, feeling that it was unfair of us to continue our life-saving work while case after case of Avian Influenza was flooding domestic and commercial flocks across the UK.

That being said, we can hold on no longer. We have liaised with DEFRA to get a clearer picture of how we can continue to rehome and now we want to make sure you all feel safe to support the BHWT by adopting hens again!

We hear your questions about the safety of adopting right now, so we’ve compiled a list of answers to help you feel confident when deciding to adopt hens from us. If you find your question has not been answered below, please don’t hesitate to contact our hen helpline.

Is Avian Influenza still in the UK?

The short answer is yes. The latest situation of Avian Influenza in the UK can be found on the DEFRA website as well as here. Prevention and surveillance zones are still in place in many areas, with cases being reported every week.

How is the BHWT able to rehome during these times?

Our rehoming days are not considered as ‘bird gatherings’ and we only rehome in areas where no local restrictions are in place and under strict biosecurity measures. We obtained permission from DEFRA to resume.

If you are rehoming, does this mean I can let my hens out into my garden?

Sadly, no, as of right now, there is still no certain date as to when we will be able to let our chickens out. There are still cases being monitored and prevention zones are still in force in many areas of the UK.

What are the extra biosecurity measures that are being put into place on rehoming days?

We are asking rehomers to stay in their vehicles, wear clean clothes that have not been in contact with their own hens, wear footwear that can be disinfected in a boot dip, and disinfect footwear before setting off and after arriving back home.

We are also asking volunteers to make sure they are also regularly boot dipping before they enter the adoption site so as not to cause any cross-contamination when helping distribute adopted hens to their new homes.

If you would like guidance on how to fashion a boot dip at home, check out this page.

Is it safe for me to merge new hens with my existing flock during Avian Influenza? How do I do this safely?

The hens you adopt from us will have come from a locked-down farm. This means there will be no more of a danger than under any other circumstances. For tips on how to merge hens, click here.

Do I need to quarantine new hens?

It is always a good idea to do so if space allows, it also assists with the merging process.

When adopting new hens during Avian Influenza, how can I make sure they are happy?

Boredom busters are the answer! Just like us, hens get bored quickly if they don’t have stimulation. They love new ideas and activities, so here are just a few to keep them hen-tertained. Things like hanging vegetable treats, sparkly items, and even musical instruments are a great addition to your run when your hens need a little excitement.

Why should I rehome now, rather than wait until Avian Influenza is definitely gone?

The hens that are waiting for homes now are relying on our supporters to adopt them. Most farms can’t hold onto their birds until lockdown ends unfortunately and they are destined for slaughter if we don’t find them homes. Therefore, it is so important that we continue to save these hens from slaughter and if you know of anyone who can help us, please pass on our message!

Now that you’re better informed about the safety of adopting hens during Avian Influenza, why not expand your flock of hens by adopting from us today? Find your nearest adoption locations here.

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