Category Archives: news

Avian Influenza update from Scot Gov

from the Scottish Government
You may wish to note that the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) have published an updated Outbreak Assessment (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/avian-influenza-bird-flu-in-europe) regarding the ongoing Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) H5N8 strain affecting the UK and Europe. Based on the latest evidence the UK risk assessment for a new incursion of AI virus via migratory wild birds has been reduced to “MEDIUM”. However, the risk of infection still being present in the UK, either circulating in non-migratory wild birds or present in the environment in some areas is still “HIGH”. The risk of an AI incursion into poultry or other captive birds remains at “LOW TO MEDIUM”, depending on premises biosecurity.

HPAI Controls

The Avian Influenza Prevention Zone declared on 22 February continues to apply across Scotland. The zone permits birds to be kept outside provided that enhanced biosecurity is in place. The current zone remains in place until 30 April and will be reviewed based on the latest evidence closer to that time.

The temporary suspension of gatherings of some species of birds (including all poultry) also remains in place.

Bird keepers in Scotland are reminded of the importance of excellent biosecurity and anyone who suspects an animal may be affected by a notifiable disease must report it to their local Animal Plant & Health Agency office. Contact details can be found at www.defra.gov.uk/ahvla-en/about-us/contact-us/field-services/

Wild bird surveillance

APHA surveillance for infection in resident wild birds is being increased. Members of the public should use the Defra helpline (Tel: 03459 33 55 77) to report findings of dead wild birds. In particular, any wild ducks, wild geese, swans, gulls or birds of prey and where more than five birds of any species are found dead in the same location. The threshold has been reduced so that any single wild waterfowl, including resident birds, will be collected for testing.

For more information please visit www.gov.scot/avianinfluenza.

You may wish to pass this alert on to your members as appropriate.

Mathew West
Exotic Diseases Branch
Animal Health and Welfare Division
Scottish Government

0300 244 9804

Permaculture Workshop Weekends

After our most successful recent Forest Garden weekend we would like to host more, and Ludwig is willing !!

What would you like, and when ?
Permaculture Workshop Weekends

Mid May – End June 2017
Led by Ludwig Appeltans, Earth-ways
hosted by Kintaline Farm, Benderloch, Argyll PA37 1QS

Ludwig Appeltans, of Earth-Ways, has a variety of courses to share with us.
Please visit https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/7QH339C to identify the ones you are most interested in, AND THE DATES you can do – (this includes a repeat of the Forest Gardening weekend we have just had for all those who were unable to join us; as well as Sheet Mulching, Soils, Composting, Plant / Weed identification, Intros to Permaculture, to Design, to Community Gardens, as well as a 6 weekend Design Course.
There is also an option for a Herbal Workshop with Clare Holohan, to learn more of our natural species, and then understand more how to convert them into useful concoctions.

Forest gardening is a clever way to design a beautiful garden with the highest yields possible while requiring very little work. This is achieved by allowing the ecosystem to take care of the fertility, pestcontrol, digging and weeding.
The main human tasks are to harvest and enjoy the beauty.
This is possible because forest gardens are designed along the principles of how a natural forest thrives without much human intervention.

Permaculture is more complex involving the three main ethics of Earth Care, People Care and Fair Share .. and then there are layers of understanding to learn to reconnect ourselves with our environment, our communities, our productivity, and our sustainability.

PLEASE please feel very free to forward this information to anyone you think might be interested.
The costs will run on a sliding scale to enable and support all who want to join, while respecting the experience and work involved in leading and hosting the workshop.

Please get in touch for further details

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Wood : Fallen Giants : Fuel for years

In the past few years our superb massive 150 year old sycamore trees have contracted back, and with their proximity to just about every building we hold dear, the decision was made to bring them down, convert them to fuel for us, and to let all the other trees and plants around them flourish with more light.
Now to clear up all the mess  and get it all processed !!
Thanks to Roni MacDonald tree services for a careful efficient job bringing these big guys down.
Have plenty of ideas to plant in their space next autumn.

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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