avian influenza guidance

Avian Influenza – Guidance for Hen Keepers

There have been outbreaks of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (H5N8) across the country in the last two weeks. As a result, Defra declared an Avian Influenza Prevention Zone in Great Britain until further notice.

We are all now legally bound, with immediate effect, to follow strict biosecurity measures to help protect our birds. As yet, we do NOT have to house our birds and if we all take extra precautions we may help to prevent the spread and therefore be able to keep our pets free-ranging. Our rehoming dates will be going ahead as they are not within controlled zones, but we will be implementing additional biosecurity and anyone booking hens will be made aware of these.

We know this is undoubtedly worrying for many of our supporters and new rehomers, so, we have compiled a list of tips to help you increase your biosecurity. For more information, check out our dedicated Avian Influenza page, which covers FAQs as well as the latest update from Defra.

Precaution only

This announcement should be taken seriously by all poultry keepers. However, we would emphasise this action by Defra is a precautionary measure only, and you are still able to free-range your hens.

Defra has advised poultry keepers to either keep their poultry indoors or, if this is not possible, keep them separate from wild birds. With this in mind we recommend taking the following steps:

  • Keep your run covered at all times to separate your hens from any possible contact with wild birds
  • Make sure your hens’ feed and water cannot be accessed by wild birds as well as clearing up any spilled feed regularly to discourage vermin
  • Take extra steps to keep your coop clean including disinfecting all hen houses on a regular basis using boot dips and Defra approved disinfectants like Nettex Virocur Disinfectant
  • Keep a close eye on your hens for any signs of illness and seek advice from a vet should you spot anything unusual
  • If you can, keep your birds in a netted run area

We would encourage everyone to take a moment to visit Defra’s advice on the government website for the full details of this announcement.

Please also take a look at our recent leaflet, produced in conjunction with BFREPA and the NFU, which contains guidance on keeping your hens safe in the event of a notifiable disease, such as Avian Influenza.

If you’d like advice on your hen’s health, why not visit our Hen Health page, where we discuss important things to look for in your hen’s health, whether its personality or physical symptoms. Or, head to our Hen Examination Guidelines where we can show you where to find things like the crop or the wattle.

If you need to seek medical advice, click here to find your nearest Hen Friendly Vet.
You can also call Hen Central on 01884 860084 to speak to one of our rehoming assistants.

Giving a gift today helps fund our Hen Helpline. It helps support hen keepers, giving them the best advice on how to care for their hens. If you have found our advice helpful, please consider giving a gift towards the hen helpline here.

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