Avian Influenza – Guidance for hen keepers

There have been outbreaks of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (H5N8) across Europe. As a result Defra last night declared an Avian Influenza Prevention Zone across England, Scotland and Wales for the next 30 days (ending 6 January 2017). So we comply with the ruling, the British Hen Welfare Trust will postpone all hen collections over this period.

We know this is undoubtedly sad and disappointing for those of you who had hoped to give some hens a home for Christmas. However, those hens will remain in their cages hoping that you will be patient and wait for them. You won’t have your girls in time for Christmas, but you will give them the best start possible to 2017.

A few people have asked us what will happen to the hens due to be re-homed in December.

What happens to the hens, will they be slaughtered?

No, in most cases the farmers have kindly agreed to give us a new date in January when we can collect the girls.  The hens are having to be patient and wait a bit longer to enjoy their free range retirement. We hope all our re-homers will be equally patient and give those hens the home they deserve in January.

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 the UK currently remains AI free.

Defra advises poultry keepers must either keep their poultry indoors. 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 so as to separate your hens from any possible contact with wild birds
  • Make sure your hens’ feed and water cannot be accessed by wild birds
  • Take extra steps to keep your coop clean including disinfecting all bird houses on a regular basis
  • Restrict movement of your birds to within their run for the next 30 days
  • Keep a close eye on your hens for any signs of illness and seek advice from a vet should you spot anything unusual

We would encourage everyone to take a moment to visit Defra’s 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.


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