Back in November 2016 the Ladies had it all. They could roam wherever they fancied which occasionally included my kitchen, if they managed to sneak in. They especially enjoyed unsuspecting guests dining alfresco during warmer times.
Then on the 6th December, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs announced the news about Avian Influenza (bird flu). You could see it was going to happen. I’d been following stories and new it wouldn’t be long before we’d have to lock all poultry indoors. Now it was here initially until 6th January 2017.
We only have half a dozen hens at present so I can’t complain. I felt for those who have larger numbers especially those who raise them for commercial purposes. It doesn’t matter whether you have 2 or 1000 poultry, they all need to be housed with no roaming outside. Pens need to be covered to stop other wild fowl from depositing their possible contaminated droppings into the pens. Also appropriate disinfectants should be used on footwear before entering the pen.
Signs to look out for are:-
- swollen head
- blue discolouration of neck and throat
- loss of appetite
- respiratory distress such as gaping beak, coughing, sneezing, gurgling, rattling
- fewer eggs laid
- increased mortality
More can be found on the website DEFRA
To begin with the Ladies were quite content but slowly over the weeks some are becoming quite bored. I’ve introduced logs with grubs, a couple of structures for different heights to stand on, even a traffic cone as they supposedly like florescent strips to peck at. Two of the hens rarely go into their covered outdoor pen and they all go to roost earlier than ever despite the daylight hours increasing. They’re just bored.
Today I threw a load of straw for them to sort out and scattered a little mixed grain on top. I don’t want to encourage rats so I didn’t scatter too much. My partner suggested mealworms – what a great idea! They were delighted with the new treat; “Thanks Hun.”
At present the deadline is February 2017 but it’s soon to change again. I don’t want to tempt fait but in our area it maybe being lifted as a temporary measure but this has yet to be announced.