Wednesday 4th January 2017
Bad news: DEFRA have extended the poultry lockdown and we now have to keep our birds housed and away from wild birds until the END OF FEBRUARY!! There have been a handful of cases of Avian Flu across the country in the last month in Wales, England and Scotland and the most recent was in a backyard flock kept in a residential property in Carmarthenshire (not that far from us). It is this case that seems to have prompted the extension. In so many ways, this is VERY bad news. For the millions of individual birds currently being housed, the welfare considerations are now huge and some people will undoubtedly be considering the viability of keeping birds at all. For the many commercial poultry keepers the financial implications of possibly now delaying breeding and selling are also enormous. And what of the egg industry: at the moment there is no restriction on egg production but turnover in the egg industry is high and for the thousands of ex-battery hens that usually get rehomed at the end of their commercial egg laying cycle (18 months), a very uncertain future awaits. Many keepers have stopped buying and selling altogether as any bird movements are considered high risk (for good reason).
And then we have also had the news of a mass bird cull in France where there have been far more AF outbreaks than we have had here: the numbers to be culled are in the hundreds of thousands!!! We are looking at trying to attach some kind of run to the poultry stall which will be lined with woodchip so that we can give the birds more access to the ‘outside’ and fresh air, allow them a bit more space generally and also create a larger ‘water’ area for the ducks so they can have a proper bath – this HAS to be outside where the water can drain otherwise we end up with VERY soggy straw inside. We have some scaffolding frames that we may be able to make use of and so give the run a bit of initial structure. Rachel from Market Vets is here on Friday to see Pickle so we will also see what she has to say about the DEFRA advice and our particular set-up!!!