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Bees : Asian Hornet

on the 17th March 2017 Scot Gov issued a warning about an Asian Hornet (Vespa velutina) that was found in the Central belt, close by retail warehousing hubs.

SG today confirmed that a single Asian Hornet, Vespa velutina had been identified at a retail warehouse in the central belt of Scotland. The Asian Hornet is a non-native species and a serious predator of honey bees and other pollinators which has recently become established in Europe. There are no more public health risks associated with Asian hornets than with other bees or wasps.
Asian hornets were first identified in the GB during autumn 2016, that outbreak was dealt with and no further reports have been confirmed since.  It is not possible to identify the origin of this individual and no further sightings have been made, however for surveillance purposes SG has placed Asian Hornet traps in the area and alerted the pest control industry and beekeepers to be vigilant for this species
 
Beekeepers are being encouraged to put up Asian hornet traps all over the country this year to try and prevent this dangerous predator from becoming part of our ecology.
You can buy the traps, or buy just the Asian Hornet pheromone to use in home made traps . It is most effective that these are hung around hives, but other locations are valuable too.
 

Full house at the Farm Gate


Full house at the farm gate .. LOTS of free range eggs (and we are a registered producer so all legal for B&B hosts to buy for guest breakfasts, as well as bakers selling their goodies) And our hens are outside on new fresh grazing plots. Lemon curd, chocolate fudge, photo coasters, cards, wild bird food, posts of flowers, and Jacob yarns.

Happy hens enjoying new ground again

Delighted to get our girls out from under their covers, and actively working. They are in our old high fenced breed pens with lots of bird scarers across the top, feed and water inside, foot baths etc. These spaces will be growing veggies later in the year, so the birds will make a great contribution to clearing the ground and adding nutrition.

Avian influenza sit rep from 28th Feb

So the 28th Feb is the date for the new Bird flu requirements in Scotland.. and things have got more complicated if that is possible.  (see links below)

It seems these are based on the fact that the virus might remain viable for 50 days on the ground, and there are internal movements of wild birds within the country, so the powers that be have decided there will be further restrictions for another 2 months.
This is despite the fact that the infected birds themselves are moving north and east to their summer breeding grounds in the Arctic, there has been no contiguous infections from the locations like Slimbridge where infected birds have been found, and there have been no new incidences in the western seaboard of mainland Europe for several weeks. 

Edit – a few hours after writing this there is another incident involving 35 birds at a farm near Haltwhistle in Northumberland
https://www.gov.uk/government/news/avian-flu-confirmed-at-a-farm-near-haltwhistle-northumberland

I have had an email dialogue with the Poultry Unit in Edinburgh, who are disappointingly not helpful at all, and could give no further virological or ecological understanding of the current situation..

A separate conversation brought up the suggestion that letting birds out now (and culling as any infection appeared, as we have done in the past) would at least allow us to KNOW where the virus is, if it is in the ground, rather than allowing it to become endemic in the wild bird population.

So … I give you all the official links I have so far found/received, and the information, for you to each assess and interpret as you will.

The welfare of our birds is obviously all our main concerns here.

My understanding is that many people will be letting their birds out, keeping feed and water inside, washing their boots, putting up some bird scarers, and feeding wild birds elsewhere; it will remain to be seen if this is sufficient.

http://www.gov.scot/Topics/farmingrural/Agriculture/animal-welfare/Diseases/disease/avian/faq/PrevZoneFAQ

Avian influenza advice 28 feb -31 april 2017  

Avian Influenza risk assessment March 2017

AI Prevention Zone – Checklist

AI Prevention Zone – letter

AI infected wild birds 2016 – 2017

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Peat and Hotmax in stock to keep you warm

After such a lovely mild spell, where the garden is growing green, daffodils and rhodies blooming with the snowdrops, Storm Doris is bringing in some weather with attitude – we might not get the gales that are forecast further south, but the snow may hit us.

We have plenty of Big bags (20kg)  of burning Peat (£7.50) and Hotmax (£7.25) in stock to keep you cosy and warm. Open daily including weekends.

New guidelines for extended Avian Influenza prevention zone from 1st March

Avian Influenza Prevention Zone Checklist (Scotland)
This is a check list designed to assist all bird keepers (commercial or hobby) in complying with the measures required by the Prevention Zone which comes into force at 00:01 on 28 February 2017.
This completed form may be retained and could be used as partial evidence provided to representatives from APHA or Local Authorities if they call upon the property to check compliance.
Name of Farm or Business: Address:
Contact Tel / Mobile No.:
CPH ref. (if applicable)
Name: _______________________________________
Date: ___________________
Signed: ________________________________________

Actively discourage wild birds from landing on the range area
This can be done with nets, cages, decoy predators, foot patrols etc and should be started well in advance of letting your birds out onto the range. Inspect your range and remove any obvious wild bird contaminants.
This should be done prior to letting your birds out onto the range, and routinely thereafter. A range is the area of land accessible by poultry or captive birds when they are not housed.
Obvious contaminants include faeces and feathers.
Net over ponds and drain waterlogged areas of the range
If this is not possible, then you can fence the area off from your birds or use an alternative field.
Long term, it may be beneficial to fill in ponds on your range and take steps to prevent any areas becoming continually wet and muddy, as they are very attractive to wild birds.
Remove any feeders and water stations from the range Feeding and watering should take place in sheltered areas which will not attract wild birds and will sufficiently prevent their access.
Regularly inspect housing/nets/cages for signs of wild bird/rodent access Ensure rodent controls are effective and ensure that the housing, feed storage and food provision areas are not accessible by wild birds or rodents.
Use dedicated footwear when accessing bird areas and install boot dips at entrances to all bird areas
Offer disinfection baths at all farm entrances/exits and bird area entrances.
Refer to the list of approved disinfectants to ensure effective compliance.
If you keep a variety of bird types, keep domestic waterfowl (ducks, geese etc) and poultry separate
This can be done with cages or fencing and must feature good biosecurity between the areas – no shared feed or water, boot dips used at all entry/exit points Reduce movements of people, vehicles or equipment into or out of bird areas and prevent unnecessary/accidental access
This helps to minimise contamination from manure, slurry and other products. Identify which areas should be restricted to essential visitors only.
Cleanse and disinfect equipment and vehicles prior to entry onto and exit from premises Reasonable precautions must be taken to avoid transfer of contaminated material on and off site. Refer to the list of approved disinfectants.
Routinely cleanse and disinfect equipment used in bird areas Housing and equipment should be thoroughly cleaned at the end of any production cycle. Refer to the list of approved disinfectants.
Guidance Notes
The avian influenza virus can survive in faeces and other  contaminated material for up to 50 days. Therefore, if wild birds have had access to your birds’ outdoor areas while they have been housed, you need to take steps as soon as possible to reduce contamination. These could include:
 Inspect your range and remove any obvious wild bird contaminants – Obvious contaminants include faeces and feathers.
 Consider what bird deterrents you can use on your range – decoy predators or other livestock (such as sheep or cattle), allowing dogs to accompany you on foot patrols around the range. You could also consider bird scarers if their use is appropriate for the area (see NFU Code of Practice on bird scarers)
 Consider increasing the number of shelters on the range area
 Ensure your birds’ water isn’t from outdoor water reservoirs which are accessible to or used by wild birds – use tap water if possible.
 Report incidents of dead wild birds – where any ‘at risk’ bird species (wildfowl or gulls), birds of prey or five or more birds of any other species, are found dead in the same location and at the same time, contact the national helpline 03459 335577 (Mon-Fri 8 am to 6 pm) or email defra.helpline@defra.gsi.gov.uk
You may wish to consult your private veterinary surgeon to assess the risks of disease incursion specific to your premises and the practical steps you can take to reduce them.
Only approved disinfectants should be used and dispensed in accordance with specified dilution rates and labelling instructions. The list of approved disinfectants for use across GB is available from: http://disinfectants.defra.gov.uk/DisinfectantsExternal/Default.aspx?Module=ApprovalsList_SI
SEPA (Scottish Environment Protection Agency) approval is not required when using approved disinfectants, however, appropriate pollution prevention measures must be followed in all cases to stop excessive uncontrolled disinfectant run off. Disinfectants must not be applied close to drinking water supplies or surface water. If unsure, please contact SEPA for advice.
Bird health should be closely monitored; highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) can develop suddenly and with high mortality. Changes in behaviour, feed or water intake could indicate early signs of disease, however, some bird species (such as ducks, geese and pigeons) display few or no clinical signs. Typical clinical signs include:

  • swollen head blue discoloration of neck and throat
  • loss of appetite and increased mortality
  • respiratory distress such as gaping beak
  • coughing, sneezing or gurgling
  • diarrhoea
  • drop in egg production

If you see any of the above signs it is recommended that you consult your private veterinary surgeon immediately.
Further advice and guidance is available from the Scottish Government website:
www.gov.scot/avianinfluenza

Wildlife : Old broody coops New wildlife homes


As we progressively clear up areas around the farm, the challenge is to find new uses for each and everything, rather than think “throw it away”.
These 20 year old broody coops are rather soft but not quite rotten. They are going to be hidden away in corners under trees and bushes around the farm, partially filled with litter etc, and hopefully hedgehogs and other creatures will find them comfortable.

Avian Influenza : Post 28th Feb Precaution information

From BBC site, information from Scottish Government

Restrictions placed on bird keepers to prevent the spread of bird flu will remain in place until the end of April, the Scottish government has said.

Poultry and captive birds must be housed indoors until 28 February but can be let outside after that providing “enhanced biosecurity” is put in place.
The Avian Influenza Prevention Zone was declared in December.
It followed an outbreak of bird flu among turkeys at a farm in Lincolnshire.
More than 5,000 birds at the farm in Louth were diagnosed with the H5N8 strain of avian flu.
The disease has also caused the deaths of wild birds and poultry in 14 European countries.
Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing said the prevention zone, which is designed to minimise the risk of infection from wild birds, would continue to apply to the whole of Scotland, with no targeting of specific areas.
The minister said all keepers must keep their birds indoors until 28 February, or take “appropriate practical steps” to keep them separate from wild birds.
After that, the birds can be let out doors provided certain measures are put in place. These include:

  • Making sure that birds’ feed and water cannot be accessed by wild birds
  • Avoiding transfer of contamination between premises by cleansing and disinfecting equipment, vehicles and footwear
  • Reducing the movement of people, vehicles or equipment to and from areas where poultry or captive birds are kept
  • Implementing effective vermin control around buildings where poultry or captive birds are kept
  • Providing wash facilities or dips containing approved disinfectant at key points

There have been no known cases of bird flu in domestic poultry or captive birds in Scotland, but several have been confirmed in England and Wales.

A UK-wide ban on poultry shows and gatherings remains in force.