As schools have shut their doors to the majority of pupils, we are offering advice to those schools caring for hens on site during this unprecedented time.
There may be possible staff shortages, due to self-isolation, meaning that staff within schools may not have the normal capacity to give school pets the care they need. It is important to remember that members of staff in charge of animals on school premises have a legal obligation to ensure the animals’ needs are met and these responsibilities continue so long as the animal remains at school. It might therefore be best to send your school flock home with an eager, well-prepared member of staff or a willing parent who can take on this responsibility over the coming months.
For those schools keeping their hens on site, they can provide a wonderful learning opportunity for those still in attendance. Caring for the school hens will not only give children the chance to get outside in the fresh air, but there is increasing evidence that interacting with animals can help to reduce anxiety. In these uncertain times, we can’t imagine a better way to spend an afternoon than watching hens pottering about!
We do however ask you take note of the following:
Due to heightened demand for eggs as a result of the outbreak, we have been made aware of anecdotal evidence of an increase in pet hens being stolen. If your hens are due to remain on site, we recommend you review security and remain vigilant. If in any doubt, move the hens to a different area in the school grounds, or off-site.
Food and Bedding
We are not advocating panic buying or stockpiling, but it’s worth planning ahead, so you know when you are likely to need to order your next bag of food or bedding. Ensuring multiple members of staff know where they can buy the correct food will help if the hens’ primary carer needs to go into self-isolation. Please note, whilst our online shop is still currently operating, there may be delays in receiving items; you can buy essentials (or treats!) for your girls here: https://shop.bhwt.org.uk/
There is currently no evidence that, similar to cats and dogs, hens can be carriers of COVID-19, or become ill from it themselves. However, during this time, ensure biosecurity remains high, and anyone who comes into contact with the hens washes their hands thoroughly with soap and water both before and after handling them. Please ensure that multiple members of staff know the vet’s contact details should the hens’ primary carer need to go into self-isolation.
If the UK goes into full lockdown and schools are subsequently shut, it is unclear whether staff will be able to leave their homes in order to care for school pets. Therefore, if it looks increasingly likely that this is going to occur, we recommend you have a contingency plan ready for the hens to go home with an eager, well-prepared member of staff who can meet all their needs during this period.
Above all, look after yourselves and stay safe.
If you have any questions or need any further advice please email firstname.lastname@example.org