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Avian Influenza - Essentials for 2021

Updated: Nov 1, 2021

Sign up to APHA animal disease alert subscription service

Sign up to specific Avian Influenza alerts.

They will let you know when and where an outbreak has been suspected or confirmed, and keep you up to date with prevention zones or housing measures.

You can also register your flock with APHA even if you have less than 50 birds, in which case you will automatically receive updates.

Protect your birds by minimising contact with wild birds, particularly waterfowl

Your birds can be exposed to Avian influenza from the faeces of infected birds. Try to reduce the likelihood of them coming into contact with such faeces.

For example; Restrict access to open or permanent standing water by fencing off and netting ponds, streams, ditches, standing water, or waterlogged land. These areas attract waterfowl who can carry Avian Influenza virus without showing any signs of illness, so it's best to keep your pet poultry away from them.

Ensure food is covered to prevent wild bird and rodent access and don't situate feeders directly on the ground. Remove spilled feed regularly. Lift feeders and drinkers up at night to prevent rodent access.

Fix buildings to prevent water ingress and other sources of contamination.

Securely store feed, water and bedding to minimise contamination by wildlife.

We may be asked to house our birds in order to prevent the spread of Avian Influenza.

Plan for a potential housing order

What is a housing order? These compulsory orders are a legal requirement for keepers of all birds, including poultry, and are often communicated at short notice, due to the nature of the disease. Keep up to date with what measures are in place by signing up to APHA alerts or checking the APHA's AI webpage regularly.

Plan how you are going to keep your birds indoors or covered outdoors for the duration of the housing order. In 2020-2021, this was compulsory for approximately 3 months, which is a long time for your birds if you haven't planned a low-stress environment.

  1. Plan a structure that will last the winter weather, particularly the wind. Strong polytunnels make great temporary accommodation, with a mesh side for ventilation.

  2. Factor in rodent control in the design. It is far better and easier to prevent rodents than to manage them once you have them. Watch this rodent webinar to assist you with your design.

  3. Try to minimise change in their environment to reduce stress. Get them used to the area you plan to restrict them in, be that a stable, polytunnel or netter gazeebo.

  4. Be prepared with extra feeders, drinkers and other essential resources your birds need or enjoy. Bored birds will patrol essential resources and this can cause bullying and pecking.

  5. Plan how to keep your birds healthy when they are on the same ground every day. This can allow diseases to build up faster than usual.

  6. Worm burdens can build up faster than usual, and if the weather is mild then mites can also take advantage of the birds being housed. Use worm egg monitoring kits to keep on top of worms in your birds, and traps for red mites. To learn more about red mites, watch this webinar.

  7. Plan your enrichment ideas. Then when you need to house them, you can just enact your plan and keep them entertained. Click here for the link to last years enrichment webinar.

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