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Information for Poultry Keepers about Avian Bird Flu

You may know that Keepers of poultry and other captive birds must now keep their birds indoors, or take steps to keep them separate from wild birds as a precaution against the spread of avian influenza which has been spreading through Europe in the past few weeks.

We were wondering what other information is available to help stop the spread of this horrible disease and have have googled and found quite a few information sources on the disease so thought it might be helpful to pop them in a blog for quick access, so here are the links:-

Quick access links

  1. Uk's DEFRA have published how to spot and how we can try to prevent Avian Flu - click here for this info. Also click here to see the governments recommended new measures to protect poultry against Avian Flu
  2. The Poultry site lists recent news reports and articles on Avian Flu and they list info on the disease itself here
  3. For some information from the NHS about bird flu and humans click here
  4. Finally, the British Hen Welfare Trust have got some great ideas for keeping the chickens entertained while they're "on lockdown" - click here to read more

So DEFRA have listed symptoms of the disease as below

"There are 2 types of avian influenza. Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) is the more serious type. It is often fatal in birds. The main clinical signs of HPAI in birds are:

  • swollen head
  • blue discolouration of neck and throat
  • loss of appetite
  • respiratory distress such as gaping beak, coughing, sneezing, gurgling, rattling
  • diarrhoea
  • fewer eggs laid
  • increased mortality
  • Clinical signs can vary between species of bird and some species may show minimal clinical signs (ducks and geese).

Low pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI) is usually less serious. It can cause mild breathing problems, but affected birds will not always show clear signs of infection.

The severity of LPAI depends on the type of bird and whether it has any other illnesses."
For more info from DEFRA click here
On the Poultry site Poultry Experts share tips to keep the chickens happy and healthy indoors eg. Chris Rumming suggests giving the birds lots of extra straw bales in the shed to keep them entertained while Mike Colle highlights ventilation as being essential to help keep the hens healthy. “Remember housing should be airy but not draughty, as well as clean - look out for the sting of ammonia from rotting droppings - with fresh straw or wood shavings to regularly bed down and perching areas free from the dreaded red mite and "Keep that water flowing and if you want eggs stick a light in the housing with a timer set for 16 hours,” he added. “Making housing more comfortable for daytime habitation will make you and your birds feel better.”


Finally the British Hen Welfare Trust suggest hanging strands of different colours of string inside the coop for the chickens to peck or even CD's! Another great tip they suggest is to get an empty plastic bottle, puncture with some holes it it and fill with corn then let the hens roll it around so they can peck at the spilt corn. They also suggest you rotate the treats so your hens are kept guessing as to what comes next and remind you not to put food outside where it can be accessed by wild birds. 
They also suggest you register your flock with DEFRA now so in the event of a future disease outbreak, they'll notify you so you can act fast to protect your hens Click here to register on DEFRA.
Hope these links are of interest and you and your hens stay healthy!!


Traci Davidson

About Traci Davidson

Been with EFD for over 3 years, how time flies! Have a keen interest in animal welfare and the environment.

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