Newsletter Avian Influenza - Update Dec 14th 2020

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Mantel Farm

Avian Influenza New Housing Measures 

From 14th December 2020


Avian Infuenza Prevention New Housing Measures


 What it means to garden poultry keepers:


Further to our last email regarding the heightened risk of H5N8 highly pathogenic avian influenza, the Chief Veterinary Officers for England, Scotland and Wales have agreed to bring in new measures to help protect poultry and captive birds, following a number of cases of avian influenza in both wild and captive birds in the UK.


The new housing measures, which will come into force on 14 December, mean that it will be a legal requirement for all bird keepers to keep their birds indoors and to follow strict biosecurity measures in order to limit the spread of and eradicate the disease.


Public health advice is that the risk to human health from the virus is very low and food standards bodies advise that avian influenzas pose a very low food safety risk for UK consumers, and it does not affect the consumption of poultry products including eggs.


We have listed below the Defra requirements in bold and our own advice on how to comply in a back garden situation in green:


Be alert:

Be vigilant for any signs of disease in your flock and any wild birds in the area, seek prompt advice from your vet if you have any concerns.


Maintain good biosecurity:

Help prevent avian flu by maintaining good biosecurity on your premises, including:

  • housing or netting all poultry and captive birds

    Your flock should be kept in their poultry housing and not given access to free range.  Your chicken run should have a solid (e.g. Onduline) roof, or other covering/screening.  Screening also works well around the sides of the run, preventing wild birds from accessing larger mesh.

  • cleansing and disinfecting clothing, footwear, equipment and vehicles before and after contact with poultry and captive birds 

    Set up a simple footbath near the entrance to your chicken run (a large bucket or tub-trug is ideal) with a solution of Defra approved disinfectant.  We recommend BioVX, a UK Defra approved powder.  A separate set of footwear is also advisable and keeps things really simple.  Keep the solution clean, changing regularly.
  • reducing the movement of people, vehicles or equipment to and from areas where poultry and captive birds are kept, to minimise contamination from manure, slurry and other products, and using effective vermin control:
    Movement:  There is no need to stop enjoying time with your flock, however, plan your visits.  Combine visits with essential care such as providing food and water, checking all is well and egg collecting.  Always practice good hygiene.
    Vermin control:  Preventative measures for rodent control are essential, being able to act early, knowing how to prevent and control a rodent infestation is key.  We supply poison in 1.5kg packs along with bait stations, pastes, blocks and traps. With a controlled approach these pack sizes should be enough to keep rodents under control, and if they are not successful a professional pest controller should be consulted.
  • thoroughly cleaning and disinfecting housing at the end of a production cycle

    Keeping any livestock area clean and tidy is key to good poultry health, not only will it meet the Defra requirements, but it will make their care more pleasurable and help to prevent all poultry pests and diseases. 

    There are many disinfectants available for poultry keepers and being conscious of the environment we have always recommended the more natural products available, steering away from the unnecessary use of harsh chemicals.  This we continue to do and our recommended products for general day to day cleaning are Poultry Shield and BioDri.  However, there is a place for stronger disinfectants and periodically you should give the poultry house a thorough clean with a Defra approved product such as Bio VX. 

    Keeping the ground of your pen clean and dry, also plays an important part in maintaining the biosecurity and comfort of your birds.  No birds are happy in wet muddy conditions. A simple answer is to provide a thick layer of woodchips across the run. This gives the birds a surface to scratch around in and keeps the floor dry, so making it easier for your access also.  We recommend applying BioDri to the outside pen, this super-absorbent powder extends the life of the bedding and is a fresh smelling powder that is nonhazardous.

  • keeping fresh disinfectant at the right concentration at all points where people should use it, such as farm entrances and before entering poultry and captive bird housing or enclosures
    This is covered in the point above for back garden keepers
  • minimising direct and indirect contact between poultry and captive birds and wild birds, including making sure all feed and water is not accessible to wild birds
    Runs should prevent wild birds from entering and all feed and water containers should be placed undercover to prevent access or contamination by wild birds


Further details, including the measures that apply in the AIPZ, can be found at GOV.​UK:




How to spot avian influenza:


There are 2 types of avian influenza:


Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) is the more serious type. It is often fatal in birds. The main clinical signs of HPAI in birds are:

  • Swollen head
  • Blue discolouration of neck and throat
  • Loss of appetite
  • Respiratory distress such as gaping beak, coughing, sneezing, gurgling, rattling
  • Diarrhoea
  • Fewer eggs laid
  • Increased mortality

Clinical signs can vary between species of bird and some species (for example ducks and geese) may show minimal clinical signs.


Low pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI) is usually less serious. It can cause mild breathing problems, but affected birds will not always show clear signs of infection.

The severity of LPAI depends on the type of bird and whether it has any other illnesses.


Please remember the above signs are guidance only, and unfortunately many of them are common in other poultry issues and behaviour – for example ‘Fewer laid eggs’ can simply mean the bird is having a rest,  moulting or it is a breed that just goes off lay in the winter. 


So, our advice is: don’t panic, but know your flock, enjoy your birds , and act responsibly.


Bird flu is a notifiable animal disease. If you suspect any type of bird flu in poultry or captive birds you must report it immediately by calling the Defra Rural Services Helpline on 03000 200 301. Failure to do so is an offence.



Christmas Boarding Arrangements 2020:


Following the announcement that Defra have introduced  new housing measures to protect poultry and captive birds from the 14 December, combined with the new Covid tiers we have regrettably decided not to board chickens over the festive period.   


We will be keeping a close eye on the situation and plan to again be offering this service as soon as possible in the new year. 


We apologise for any inconvenience caused but feel this is the best action for the ongoing safety of our customers, chickens, and staff.



Biosecurity Products:


Application of Poultry Shield:

Make a litre of solution by adding 200ml of Poultry Shield concentrate to 800ml of water.  To clean, sanitise and odour neutralise your coop:
Remove old bedding and excess litter

Spray interior areas and equipment with poultry shield solution. 
Pay particular attention to the roof structure, joints, cracks, crevices and perches. 

Leave to soak for 1 hour, then brush clean.


Application of BioDri:

A fresh smelling nonhazardous powder suitable for use with animals and birds of all ages.
This powder is extremely effective in absorbing liquids and ammonia gas, inhibiting the growth and spread of bacteria and other harmful organisms. 

Add 1 cup per square meter on top of the animal bedding.


Application of BioVX:

BioVX is broad spectrum and effective against bacteria, fungi, yeasts and all known classes of  virus.

Being Defra approved and bio-degradable, its superior dilution rates make it a highly cost-effective solution for foot baths.

Dilute 1:200 in a suitable container to act as a footbath.


Please find further guidance on biosecurity measures and products available on our Mantel Farm Factsheets:

Help and Advice Sheets


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