On Friday (6th January), H5N8 avian flu was confirmed in a flock of backyard chickens in North Yorkshire. Protection and surveillance zones have been put up around the Settle area to prevent the flu spreading locally, but the fact that a backyard flock has been affected makes it even more essential that hobby chicken owners follow DEFRA and Animal and Plant Health Agency guidelines.
Other outbreaks of this strain of avian flu have been identified in a backyard flock in Camarthenshire, a turkey farm in Lincolnshire and in several wild birds in England, Wales and Scotland.
Prevention Zones across GB have been extended until 28 February 2017. This means, “Keepers of poultry and captive birds must “house” them away from wild birds. They must maintain biosecurity and keep a close watch on the health of their birds.” This is to protect against the increased risk of contracting avian flu subtype H5N8 from any infected wild birds coming over from Europe.
DEFRA encourages, “Members of the public … to report dead wild waterfowl (swans, geese or ducks) or gulls, or five or more dead wild birds of other species in the same location, to the Defra helpline on 03459 335577.”
For more information on the North Yorkshire case and advice from the UK’s Chief Veterinary Officer on keeping backyard chickens safe, click here.
As well as following biosecurity measures, don’t forget that ‘cooped up’ chickens will benefit from a mentally stimulating activity to stop them getting bored. Here are a few ideas:
- Suspend a cabbage or cauliflower stalk from the ceiling of the coup or run – chickens will love to peck at it and the fact it’s a moving target makes the activity all the more challenging!
- Put a fat ball (for garden birds) in the run, and the chickens will chase it round their living space
- Feed the chickens a few live mealworms, as being indoors they aren’t able to forage for protein sources such as bugs and earthworms.