Avian Flu Warning UK

The day we announce we have finished the chicken coup at Pig Row and DEFRA announced measures to counteract an avian flu rise on the continent. At the Hopwood garden we have all sorts of birds and you haven't lived until you see you two adults try and move a rhea (small ostrich but with temper of a large ostrich) into a barn. However, there is confusion over bird flu in the UK. Let's be clear, these are preventive measures, at present there has been no outbreak of bird flu in this country. However, there was an outbreak in Preston in July, 2015 and a rather deadly strain of it was found in East Yorkshire in 2014. There is one thing though that isn't widely known or people don't realise when a 'prevention zone' is in place any loss of poultry due to avian flu including the culling of your flock due to you being within a prevention zone means no compensation. Your flock gets culled. No money. For many small scale poultry raisers this could mean make or break. So, it is vital we all do our bit. We are now in a prevention zone.

avian flu, UK

You have the responsibility to keep  your chickens separate from wild birds from the 6th December 2016, in England, Scotland and Wales. This prevention zone covers the whole of England, Scotland and Wales because of a pathogenic variation of avian flu found in continental Europe. Remember wild birds fly and this zone will remain in place for 30 days (until the 6th January, 2017). You can find all details on Avian Flu on the DEFRA site here. Below is some of the ways to spot avian influenza from the taken from the DEFRA website on the 12th December, 2016:
There are 2 types of animals 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.

How avian influenza is spread
The disease spreads from bird to bird by direct contact or through contaminated body fluids and faeces.
The avian influenza virus changes frequently, creating new strains, and there is a constant risk that one of the new strains may spread easily among people. But there is no evidence that any recent strain of avian influenza has been able to spread directly between people.

Avian influenza isn’t an airborne disease.

So, what have we done at Pig Row? We are using V18 disinfectant which claims to kill avian flu. We are using this on our shoes if we enter the run and to clean. Dosages required can be found on the bottle (however, we have found a child's medicine dispenser to be invaluable. Of course, this doesn't go back to the child afterwards - we are using an old one). You can also use dip baths, see image above of ones being used at Hopwood. However, we have a coop which means we don't need to enter the coop. We have also run a net over the coop to stop wild birds from landing. We have also quarantined our chickens, we're not letting them out of the run until next year or the prevention zone has ended. Remember if avian flu is found in your area you are obligated to inform DEFRA you have chickens. If your chickens have avian flu and you do not declare it you will face a penalty of up to £5,000 on summary conviction and up to 3 months’ imprisonment per offence. Please use the link to the DEFRA site above and learn more so we can prevent a terrible disease from spreading.

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