Category Archives: Poultry advice

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

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.

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





Avian Influenza 24 Jan 2017 Preston Lancashire

The UK’s Chief Veterinary Officer has confirmed H5N8 avian flu in a flock of farmed breeding pheasants at a premises in Wyre, Lancashire. A 3km Protection Zone and a 10km Surveillance Zone have been put in place around the infected premises to limit the risk of the disease spreading.

The flock is estimated to contain approximately 10,000 birds. A number have died and the remaining live birds at the premises are being humanely culled. A full investigation is under way to determine the source of the infection. Public Health England advise that the risk to public health from the virus is very low and the Food Standards Agency is clear that bird flu does not pose a food safety risk for UK consumers.

Avian influenza info and links

Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza strain H5N8

With far more activity of wild birds becoming obvious it is important to create a disinfectant bath outside your henhouse and run – you can take the infected wild bird poo in on your boots.

10 Jan 2017 Nottingham

9 Jan 2017

6 Jan 2017 Yorkshire –

4 Jan 2017 – Slimbridge incident – 4 dead birds but no cull –

4 Jan 2017 wild birds found with H5N8 in Merseyside but little other information

An Avian Influenza Prevention Zone that has been in place since 6 December will be extended until 28 February to help protect poultry and captive birds from avian flu, the Chief Veterinary Officer has announced.
if anyone needs help or advice, we are happy to help.

OFC17: Potential bird flu threat due to backyard poultry keepers failing to follow safety rules – Farming UK News

3 Jan 2017 – Bird flu in domestic birds in Wales –

23 Dec 2016 – Bird of prey with H5N8 likely from eating infected migratory bird – Dumfries and Galloway –

Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy :

Government news status –

If a flock of birds are infected then the healthy birds of that flock will also be culled
There is then further movement restrictions locally in the area.

You should have a container by your poultry house to be able to dunk your wellies in as you go in and out – use a disinfectant like Virkon from your vets – it comes in sachets.

If anyone wants housing please get in touch – we are extending our 10% December offer for another month
For folk in Argyll we have a small number of ex display houses in stock at a further discount for collection only

Entertaining birds in confinement

  • Growing sprouting seeds can be useful to entertain and feed your birds – alfalfa is a very good feed, but also just wheat too
  • Soaking Grass pellets (and alfalfa pellets)
  • hang up fruit and veggies – some cut up and some whole
  • use different kinds of feeders so there is choice and variety
  • use layers meal – this takes longer to eat
  • Give them bales of hay and straw to clamber on, and to hide behind .. poles across them to use for activity
  • Give ducks and geese enough water to be able to immerse their heads – kids sand pits are ideal
  • treats like meal worms and Henblox (we have both in stock for sale)
  • hang reflective discs – like the old computer CD’s we used to get sent !
  • DON’T use wild bird foods like sunflower seeds, or peanuts, or suet balls etc – all these are for birds with high energy demands and eating them can seriously damage the liver of productive birds.
  • keep the ground clean beneath the birds with sawdust from mills, shavings, bark, and leaves from woodland.
  • (weeds from your garden they love but there is a risk

Covering a run area – and remember the run does nto have to be TALL .. just high enough for the birds to be comfortable

Options that people are using –

  • marquees and gazebos with netting sides
  • using sheds / livestock trailers / barns and buildings
  • fruit cages with plastic over the top
  • use fence posts to make an extra big run, bird netting and thin plastic
  • You can do netting – do a double layer and trap thin plastic between them.
  • run panels –

Putting feed and water away is NOT enough to save your birds nor to comply.
AND .. this is likely to happen again next winter as it takes time for these HP AI viruses to go away and so it is worth investing time and effort into making space for your birds.
There are plenty of places who sell fence posts .. and with wire and string across the top with netting / plastic / netting sandwich it is pssible to give birds some decent areas.
Use shavings / sawdust / bark / leaves to cover muddy areas
For those who do not believe domestic birds need protecting please check the incidences in Mainland Europe as over there it is MAINLY backyard birds who are being infected.

The restrictions will likely be lifted as the migratory birds go north and east BUT .. we need plan ahead over the summer as this is VERY likely to come back again next season. That is the pattern in the past.
This is a particularly virulent virus – and for us, is carried in migratory waterfowl in the main.

It is vitally important we do not let this virus get established into the domestic flocks and wild bird populations in this country – Highly Pathogentic Avian Influenza H5N8 does not, as it exists currently, pose any problems to the human population but HPAI strains that are allowed to get established are far more likely to mutate into a strain that COULD THEN create a pandemic human flu virus ! .. as well as having this virus in amongst our wild birds would constantly compromise our domestic and commercial birds. So – please make all the efforts necessary to protect your birds and so to protect our flocks in the future.

Highly Pathogenic AI does not easiy become endemic in the population because of the deaths of other birds when in contact with any infection. These extreme measures are aimed at helping to keep the virus at bay.

The weather has not helped us – the mild November did not move the migratory birds on from feeding grounds in Europe, and then the December gales kept birds away – the January extension of the lockdown suggests that the experts are expecting significant numbers of migratory wild fowl to come in to the UK yet. . and there is so much of the virus in the western seaboard of continental Europe that the risk is high.

Migrating birds

This virus has travelled from China – through Russia (and through a southern route via Asia) into the northern parts of Continental Europe with migratory birds. It has taken several years and it can take several years before this particular strain peters out. So we need to be prepared to set up better pens to do the  same thing next year.

If you see birds left outside and you want to report them you need to contact your councils Senior Animal Health and Welfare Officer

Avian Influenza Jan 5th 2017 Update – Extension to Housing Order

Joe Kirk – Senior Agricultural Officer (Poultry)
Poultry Unit |Directorate for Agriculture, Food & Rural Communities |P1 Spur, Saughton House |Broomhouse Drive |Edinburgh EH11 3XD |0300 2449857 |07917 052293

Avian Influenza Update – Extension to Housing Order – Please see details below
If you are not already signed up – I would encourage you to sign up to the APHA text/email alerts at

Dear Colleague

You may wish to note a Scottish Government press release notifying bird keepers that the Avian Influenza Prevention Zone requiring all poultry and captive bird keepers to apply heightened biosecurity including keep their birds indoors, if possible, or otherwise separated from wild birds, will remain in force until 00:01 on 28 February 2017.


An AI Prevention Zone was first declared from 6 December 2016 until 17:00 on 6 January 2017. Since then, the risk level for Avian Influenza incursions into flocks in the UK has been raised to ‘low to medium’ for poultry or captive birds, and ‘high’ for wild birds. Cases of HPAI H5N8 have also been confirmed in poultry in Lincolnshire in England and Carmarthenshire in Wales, as well as wild birds across Great Britain (including a peregrine falcon found in Dumfries and Galloway).

In light of these confirmed cases across Great Britain and the increased risk levels, Scottish Ministers have decided that a further zone should be declared lasting until 28 February 2017. Zones in effect in England and Wales have also been renewed for the same period. The ban on gatherings of poultry, game birds and waterfowl also remains in force. Further information about the current situation, including a Q&A on the Prevention Zone, is available at

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

You may wish to pass this alert on as appropriate.

Kind regards


Nadine Arber | Policy Officer
Exotic Diseases branch | Animal Health and Welfare Division (P Spur)
Directorate for Agriculture Food and Rural Communities | Scottish Government
Saughton House, Broomhouse Drive, Edinburgh, EH11 3XD
Tel +44(0)300 244 9795
Fax +44(0)300 244 9797

Avian Influenza H5N8 Lockdown ALL UK – 6 Dec for 30 days

LOCKDOWN OF ALL poultry – Avian Influenza Prevention Zone declared in response to spread of H5N8 in Europe.…/avian-influenza-protection-measures
how to make things work –

Bird flu now only 30 miles from Britain

The Scottish Government and DEFRA has declared an Avian Influenza Prevention Zone requiring that all poultry and captive birds must be kept indoors, or otherwise kept separate from wild birds.
“We have declared a 30-day Prevention Zone as a precautionary measure to protect Scotland’s valuable poultry industry, particularly in the weeks before Christmas. It is important to stress that there has been no cases of this strain detected in the UK” 0 this is the same in England too

Avian Influenza for domestic poultry keepers

The bird flu lockdown across the country throughout the winter 2017 in the face of the Avian Influenza strain H5N8 that flocks of the wintering migrant birds from the Arctic had picked up was a new and significant change in our domestic poultry keeping regimes.

If you want to receive the alerts from our agriculture department about  exotic and notifiable animal diseases through the APHA alerts service sign up here.

Selling Eggs

If you are only selling / giving eggs to the people who are eating them, you have to simply follow sensible food safety.
But the moment you sell / give to anyone who is either using them for baking or cooking for somoeone else to buy; selling / giving them to someone who will sell them on; or in any other way breaking the direct food chain then you need to register as a packing station with Edinburgh egg and poultry unit.
Good food safety is to collect them daily, several times if very hot. To keep nestboxes very clean; not to wash eggs; to store them in trays somewhere that has a stable cool temperature.
You should not call them free range unless you are registered as it is a legal special marketing term. but Free Roaming is fine.
If you can take an elementary food safety certificate locally that is a great way to show you have the understanding and are prepared to fulfil the necessary due diligence to take care of your customers.
Class A eggs are again a specific term, and require particular grading and care.
Putting sizes on eggs requires accurate weighing scales.

these links are for Scotland, if you live elsewhere you need to find the appropriate department for your area.
Egg Inspections

Good hen house design

Good house design

  • ship lap timber
  • simple
  • great ventilation – long narrow strips of mesh protected as well as through the corrugations of the roof for bigger houses
  • high ventilation – not around the heads of the birds

Bad house design

  • plastic, tin,
  • felt roofing – which attracts and promotes red mite infestations
  • slats in the floor as roosting bars – very unnatural, and causes breast bone issues
  • no perches – chickens want to roost from only a few days and weeks old.