From 14th December 2020 it is a legal requirement for all poultry keepers to keep their hens housed to prevent contact with wild birds.
Think about ways you can safely house your hens:
- An enclosed area such as a large garage, out building or greenhouse without access to outside is ideal.
- A house within a netted outdoor area, using netting small enough to prevent wild birds accessing, and a cover or tarpaulin over the top to prevent droppings falling through into the coop is acceptable.
- An existing fruit cage covered with a tarpaulin to prevent droppings falling through and / or a polytunnel can be used to provide a covered exercise area for your birds.
- Any existing wired hen run can be made compliant by adding small gauge mesh or netting sides and providing a cover to prevent droppings falling through.
Enrichment is important and can include:
- Pecking blocks – make sure you don’t overfeed them though, pecking blocks are treats (and fattening!)
- Straw bales – please don’t use hay as they may be tempted to eat it and it could impact their crop.
- Grit in litter or on the ground – always great for scratching around.
- Perches – useful for a spot of preening and / or daytime snoozing.
- Coloured string hanging up so they can peck and tug it – great fun for hens.
It’s useful to keep them entertained by alternating the treats and activities you give them, it’ll maintain their interest and help them stay happy during their lockdown.
Regular cleaning and disinfection of feeders and drinkers as well as the use of a boot dip on entering and leaving your enclosure will also help prevent the spread of disease. A plastic storage box works well with a virucidal disinfectant (there are many on the market).
Here are some photos showing examples: