Avian Flu

Hen-Gen

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After a number of dead Great Skuas were sent away for testing avian flu has been confirmed on Fair Isle. Fortunately this is the most geographically isolated community in Britain so, fingers crossed, it won’t spread. It’s also a strain that does not effect humans.
Bit close for comfort though!😬
 

Marigold

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Having heard your opinions about Great Skuas, I expect you probably thought Nature had at least chosen the right species this time, HenGen! Not a good start to the migration season, though.
 

LadyA

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I suppose it's good that it is in a fairly isolated area. Let's hope it won't spread.

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Hen-Gen

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As of tonight in Scotland there is just one case, in Angus. APHA are not as yes mandating compulsory housing of birds but are just advising keepers to be vigilant with regard to the health of their stock and to practise good bio security and not sell or otherwise move birds about.
Also the only information being released is that the outbreak has occurred “in a flock of captive birds”. What species of bird has not been divulged.
 

Marigold

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Heavy losses at Stratford upon Avon.

https://www.stratford-herald.com/news/half-of-stratfords-swans-killed-by-bird-flu-9224145/
 

LadyA

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There's been a couple of cases over here too, but thankfully, so far, just a couple.

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Marigold

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DEFRA advice at present is for improving biosecurity. Infection risk medium/low.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/bird-flu-latest-situation-avian-influenza-prevention-zone-declared-across-great-britain

My three girls are now going into their second winter and egg production is slowing down below the 14 per week that is the minimum for each of us to have an egg for breakfast, so I’m hoping to get a couple more ASAP. A combination of what I’m doing and the opening days of the local farm where I get them means next Thursday is likely to be the first opportunity. So I hope we don’t get a travel ban on poultry before then!
 

chick

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Are these outbreaks more common now? Or is it I just never clocked what was going on before I got chickens. This will be the 3rd year out of 7 or 8 that we've had bird flu issues. Not sure about anyone else but I get quite anxious about it all.
 

Marigold

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Hi chick. Yes it is worrying, and I expect it has been with us for many years, since the spread of infections is linked to wild bird migration patterns in Autumn and Spring. I think many people in the fairly recent past who kept a few private hens wouldn’t have been informed about it, before we were all on the internet and able to keep up to date on developments.
The main way to protect your flock is to reduce or eliminate their contact with wild birds, ideally by keeping them in a large run with a solid roof. A mesh roof will stop wild birds getting in, but isn’t fully effective because wild birds can still land on the roof and poo through the mesh, thus contaminating the bedding where your hens will scratch and forage. Of course if you offer your birds an area for free ranging, and maybe have a small run with a coop included, this poses problems if restrictions are imposed. You just have to be prepared and think ahead in case lockdown measures are imposed. Although a fully free range system is ideal for chickens, they will be perfectly happy and healthy in a roofed run if it’s large enough, (minimum of 2 square metres per bird) and if you supply them with green food as daily extras to their normal diet of good quality layers pellets. Compared with most commercially farmed chickens, this is paradise!
If avian flu is diagnosed in a flock near to yours, unfortunately yours will be culled along with any others in the local area, whether or not they are infected. And if course, if yours are the first to be infected, local chicken farming businesses will lose all their birds. Most outbreaks are on commercial farm premises, though, so with care and good hygiene, those of us with small flocks should be OK.
 

chick

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Thanks Marigold!
The hens normally have free run of about an acre so are not happy when they have to be kept in. Last year we rigged up the nets from the veg plot as roofing, stitched together with string, to make as large a pen as possible. It meant we couldn't turn on the electric fence as the nets were tied to it, but we all muddled through. We don't have any gulls over us, or wildfowl anywhere near, which I believe are the main species that can transfer the virus, so fingers crossed we'll be OK. But as you say it all depends on whether someone else has a problem. Most of my neighbours keep either hens or ducks, and there are also a couple of chicken farms not too far away - probably close enough to mean we'd be in the cull zone. I'll be glad when spring arrives and all the migrations are over for the year.
 

Marigold

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When Spring arrives, most of the birds that have gone either South or North for the winter move back again to where they came from! So migration periods actually affect about half of the year, all told.
Your hens are certainly unusually lucky birds, with all that space, ideal of course, and something those of us with only small garden plots can only aspire to. I understand what a problem it must be, when we’re faced with lockdown conditions for keepers like you. Let’s hope they’ll stay safe and enjoy life in their lovely big acre or so.
 

dianefairhall

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I've not seen any geese passing through this year. We do of course have the white-tailed eagles and golden ones that nest on the cliffs so maybe the geese have changed their course. If so I guess we'll be OK as we also have our resident sparrowhawk who scares the starlings away.
 

LadyA

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A white tailed Eagle was found dead of avian flu here during the week. Shame, as they're very rare here.

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LadyA

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They're nowhere near me. Other side of the country. There are buzzards nesting near me though, and they never have. Mind you, I've never had chicks.

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