Return of Avian Flu: Tips for keeping your pet birds safe image by jamiestentaford AdobeStock_13475798

New chicken keepers may be unaware of how they can protect their birds, and the laws around avian flu reporting

Avian Influenza has returned and is present in increasing numbers of counties across the UK. Influenza infected birds have been confirmed in commercial locations in Cheshire, Kent, and Herefordshire.

There have also been cases in wild waterfowl in Devon, Dorset, and Gloucestershire.

ChickenGuard, a manufacturer of an automatic chicken coop door, said that its research found that the number of new chicken keepers increased massively in 2020.

Adding that concerns have been raised that new chicken keepers may not know how to identify or diagnose a case of Avian Flu. This could lead to many cases being missed and undiagnosed.

By law, any very sick birds, or unexplained deaths, must be assessed by a vet and reported, as the presence of bird flu can adversely affect poultry movement and trade.

The disease is highly contagious and lethal to both domestic and wild foul, so it is vital that chicken keepers take action to protect their birds from contracting this fatal disease.

Since it is not as simple as putting a face mask on your birds, ChickenGuard has put together some tips to help ensure you keep your hens flu-free:

  1. Clean and disinfect: Clean your footwear before and after dealing with your chickens. This can be done quickly and simply by adding a disinfectant – ideally virucidal – into a plastic storage box and dipping footwear into this. Keep coop areas clean and tidy, regularly disinfecting hard surfaces and humanely controlling rats and mice
  2. Feeding: When trying to protect your birds the most important thing to do is keep out wildlife. An easy way to do this is to make sure food and water is placed in fully enclosed areas and any spillage is removed regularly
  3. Fencing: Another great way to keep the wildlife and wildfowl out is by fencing off outdoor areas so that your chickens can still roam around. If you have a pond, place netting over the water area to deter wildfowl
  4. Register: Are your birds registered on the Gov.UK website? Search poultry registration to register your chickens, and you will also receive updates on avian flu cases and risks

If you would like to learn about keeping chickens – with some tips on bird health and wellbeing and protecting them from predators – lots of regularly updated information can be found at ChickenGuard.