Yesterday we had an update on the Avian Flu restrictions – good news and bad, the Prevention Zone covering Scotland will now be extended until the end of April, however, as it’s deemed a low-risk zone we will be allowed to let our hens out on the 28th February as long as we have enhanced biosecurity to minimise the risk of infection from wild birds.
It doesn’t state what these enhanced biosecurity measures are so it looks like that’s up to us, so, as we’re interpreting this – as long as we’ve done the little things that we can, like remove bird feeders from the garden, we should be set to give the girls back their freedom.
It seems like an awfully long time since the restrictions first came in at the start of December – can’t wait to see them back out foraging round the garden and hopefully they’ll laying eggs again!
This morning brought the news that a particularly virulent strain of avian flu (H5N8) has been causing deaths of poultry and wild birds in Europe and that although there have been no reported cases in the UK that all keepers of poultry across Scotland, England and Wales, are legally obliged to ensure that their birds are kept away from wild birds to restrict any potential infection.
This left us in a bit of a pickle as our chicken run is only half complete. Thankfully a kind neighbour came over and helped us get it enclosed and in compliance with the 30-day restrictions that have been imposed. This might be the kick up the bum needed for us to get on and finish the run properly but for now, it will do.
I feel quite sorry for Betty and Rose as they usually have free range of the garden so I’ll need to find some things to keep the girls amused during their confinement as well as keeping a close eye on them for any signs of illness.
Since 3 November, highly pathogenic avian influenza of subtype H5N8 has been found in dead wild birds in Austria, Croatia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine and the Russian Federation. These outbreaks have affected various wild bird species, including Tufted Ducks (Aythya fuligula), Common Pochard (Aythya ferina), gull species, wild geese, wild swans and various other wild waterfowl and raptors. Read the latest outbreak assessment or sign up to our Alerts Service to keep up to date with the latest news.
Clinical signs that poultry keepers should look for in their birds include a swollen head, discolouration of neck and throat, loss of appetite, respiratory distress, diarrhoea and fewer eggs laid – although these vary between species of bird.
Where avian influenza (or Newcastle Disease) is not strongly suspected, but cannot be ruled out, poultry keepers may wish to liaise with their private veterinarian about using the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) ‘testing for exclusion’ regime in GB. This involves submitting samples to a testing service at the APHA’s National Reference Laboratory, Weybridge and can help detect a notifiable avian disease at the earliest opportunity for such cases.
Wild bird surveillance activity in Great Britain has been increased. If poultry keepers or the general public find dead wild waterfowl (swans, geese or ducks) or gulls, or five or more dead wild birds of other species in the same location, they should report them to the Defra helpline.
Telephone (UK) 03459 33 55 77
Keen & willing, if slightly clueless, gardeners – life in & around our Scottish Pentlands garden