poultry

New precautionary measures to protect poultry against Avian Flu

Important – Please read.

All poultry keepers, even if you only have 1 or 2 birds, need to follow the latest guidelines produced by DEFRA. This is a precautionary measure for 30 days. There has been NO outbreak of avian flu in the UK so let’s try and keep it that way.

The DEFRA press release can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-measures-to-protect-poultry-against-avian-flu and is copied below for completeness:

 

The Chief Veterinary Officer has declared a Prevention Zone to help protect poultry from a strain of Avian Flu in Europe.

The Government Chief Vet has declared a Prevention Zone introducing enhanced biosecurity requirements for poultry and captive birds, helping protect them from a strain of avian flu circulating in mainland Europe. The zone covers England and will remain in place for 30 days.

Keepers of poultry and other captive birds are now required to keep their birds indoors, or take appropriate steps to keep them separate from wild birds.

Outbreaks of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (H5N8) have been confirmed in poultry and wild birds in several countries across Europe. No cases of H5N8 have been found in the UK and this order is a precautionary measure to help prevent potential infection from wild birds.

Public Health England (PHE) advises that the threat to human health remains very low.

Defra is continuing to monitor the situation closely and has increased its surveillance activity, while keepers are being urged to reinforce biosecurity measures on their premises.

Chief Veterinary Officer Nigel Gibbens said:

While no cases of H5N8 avian flu have been found in the UK, and PHEadvises the public health threat is low, we are closely monitoring the situation across Europe and have scaled up surveillance in response to the heightened risk.

As a precaution, and to allow time for poultry and captive bird keepers to put in place appropriate biosecurity measures, we have declared a 30-day Prevention Zone to reduce the risk of infection from wild birds.

Even when birds are housed a risk of infection remains so this must be coupled with good biosecurity – for example disinfecting clothing and equipment, reducing poultry movement and minimising contact between poultry and wild birds.

Poultry keepers are advised to be vigilant for any signs of disease in their birds and any wild birds, and seek prompt advice from their vet if they have any concerns. They can help prevent avian flu by maintaining good biosecurity on their premises, including:

  • cleansing and disinfecting clothing, footwear, equipment and vehicles before and after contact with poultry – if practical, use disposable protective clothing
  • reducing the movement of people, vehicles or equipment to and from areas where poultry are kept to minimise contamination from manure, slurry and other products and using effective vermin control
  • thoroughly cleaning and disinfecting housing at the end of a production cycle
  • keeping fresh disinfectant at the right concentration at all points where people should use it, such as farm entrances and before entering poultry housing or enclosures
  • minimising direct and indirect contact between poultry and wild birds, including making sure all feed and water is not accessible to wild birds

Further information

  • Since 3 November, highly pathogenic avian influenza of subtype H5N8 has been found in dead wild birds in Austria, Croatia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine and the Russian Federation. These outbreaks have affected various wild bird species, including Tufted Ducks (Aythya fuligula), Common Pochard (Aythya ferina), gull species, wild geese, wild swans and various other wild waterfowl and raptors. Read the latest outbreak assessment or sign up to our Alerts Service to keep up to date with the latest news.
  • Clinical signs that poultry keepers should look for in their birds include a swollen head, discolouration of neck and throat, loss of appetite, respiratory distress, diarrhoea and fewer eggs laid – although these vary between species of bird.
  • Where avian influenza (or Newcastle Disease) is not strongly suspected, but cannot be ruled out, poultry keepers may wish to liaise with their private veterinarian about using the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) ‘testing for exclusion’ regime in GB. This involves submitting samples to a testing service at the APHA’s National Reference Laboratory, Weybridge and can help detect a notifiable avian disease at the earliest opportunity for such cases.
  • Wild bird surveillance activity in Great Britain has been increased. If poultry keepers or the general public find dead wild waterfowl (swans, geese or ducks) or gulls, or five or more dead wild birds of other species in the same location, they should report them to the Defra helpline.

 

black chicken

Keeping Chickens – February tips

A Hen keeper for more than 20 years with a 300-strong flock on her Surrey / Hampshire smallholding, chicken expert Suzie Baldwin offers her advice for looking after your chickens during February.

There is something about February that gives me a real spring in my step. Maybe its the increase in daylight or seeing the amorous courtships around the small holding. There is much dancing and preening, not to mention the deafening vocal sparring between all the cockerels as they compete for mates. Egg production has picked up, so I’m able to set my incubators to hatch chicks. A few hens have gone broody in the nesting boxes and, if successful, may raise some young the natural way, too. The geese will start laying again soon – and you cant beat an omelet made with their offerings. Apart from observing my flocks’ daily antics, one of the most enjoyable jobs is collecting their freshly laid eggs on chilly mornings – it still feels utterly magical. Feeding your hens high-quality “layers’ pellets” (fancy feed do a great high quality range that we stock in our Hollywater Hens shop) for their main diet is essential to keep them healthy and ensure they produce excellent eggs. Reserve treats for the afternoons – by which time they will have eaten some feed – as, like us, chickens favor them over the healthy option. Refreshing their drinkers daily is key, too, not only for their wellbeing – if your girls dehydrate, they may go into moult and it could affect their laying ability – but also for the goodness of their eggs, as they’re composed of 70 percent water.

  • GROW…wheat on a windowsill or in an airing cupboard – chickens love the sprouted seed
  • TURN…over the ground in fixed runs, apply disinfectant and add fresh bark
  • MAKE…an all round tonic using dried seaweed to promote health, increase egg yield and darken yolk colour

Click here for details of Suzie Baldwin’s hen keeping courses at Hollywater Hens, and have a look at some more of Suzie’s tips for keeping chickens

Halloween at Hollywater Hens

Keeping chickens – October tips

A hen keeper for more than 20 years with a 300 strong flock on her Hampshire / Surrey smallholding, chicken expert Suzie Baldwin from Hollywater Hens offers her advice and October tips for keeping chickens:

As the days are becoming shorter, I've cheered my self up by buying a lovely Trio of Brahmas They're beautiful. All my other birds fill the air with raucous clucks and cock-a-doodle-dos as they welcome the new arrivals. The turkey can't quite make them out. Meanwhile, Doris, a lovely speckled hybrid, is in trouble as she has tucked into a packet of custard creams left unattended on my desk in the stable-cum-office. They say chickens are stupid but she knows where the biscuit barrel is. Too much sugar on a regular basis can be harmful for poultry, but as an occasional treat it isn't a problem.

Halloween is on the way and if, like me, you carve a pumpkin for your porch, don't waste the seeds. They have been used for hundreds of years as a natural wormer for animals including chickens, which greatly to enjoy them. I whizz them in a blender and add a small amount of natural yogurt to make a smoothie. You could also feed them as they are, using a scooped-out pumpkin half as a bowl (they love the flesh, too). My children dot glowing lanterns around the
 field to scare foxes. It's worth a try and looks very pretty. At other times, I use natural wormer Verm-X, the fennel, peppermint and cinnamon helps keep chickens’ digestive system healthy.

Click here for details of Suzie Baldwin's hen keeping courses at Hollywater Hens, and have a look at some more of Suzie's tips for keeping chickens

lambs in front of the Hollywater Hens shop

Open again as usual

The family wedding is over and Hollywater Hens is open again as usual:

 

Chickens for sale in the shop at Hollywater Hens in Hampshire

Open Wednesday to Friday
9:00 am – 5:00 pm

Open Saturday and Sunday
10:00am – 4:00pm

Closed – Monday and Tuesday
Open – Bank holidays

ducks crossing road

Ducklings cross road… with police escort

Police in the city of Christchurch, New Zealand, stopped traffic to help a mother duck and several ducklings cross a busy road.

Canterbury Police posted a video of the incident on their facebook page, along with a note thanking the motorists who stopped to allow them safe passage.

“Thank you to everyone who stopped while this family of ducklings flagged down a Police escort across a busy Christchurch intersection. They went on to explore a newly formed water feature!!!”

chickens in coop

Keeping chickens – September tips

A hen keeper for more than 20 years with a 300 strong flock on her Hampshire / Surrey smallholding, chicken expert Suzie Baldwin from Hollywater Hens offers her advice and September tips for keeping chickens:

We've been busy moving the coops nearer to the large barns and hedges that will provide shelter from the elements later in the autumn. The barn has been fllled with straw, which made for hours of fun for my children and chickens alike, while the sheds where the chicks were raised in spring and summer are now clear and disinfected; they will remain empty until we start hatching again next year.

With the nights beginning to draw in, it's also time to spruce up your run, if it is fixed. For bare ground that is prone 
to becoming water logged: after turning over the earth, removing any heavily soiled areas and spraying with Virkon -S disinfectant, add a good, deep layer of bark and some lengths of timber for
 your birds to perch on and explore. Place slabs around the outside of your fencing, as this not only gives you a path to walk on but helps prevent predators digging in. Similarly, check feed bins for signs 
of rodents, which maybe moving into more sheltered places - especially if corn and layers pellets are available - and remember to sweep up any spillages.

Click here for details of Suzie Baldwin's hen keeping courses at Hollywater Hens, and have a look at some more of Suzie's tips for keeping chickens

Pekin chicken

Keeping chickens – August tips

A hen keeper for more than 20 years with a 300 strong flock on her Hampshire / Surrey smallholding, chicken expert Suzie Baldwin from Hollywater Hens offers her advice and August tips for keeping chickens:

The Pekins have a new coop this month and seem rather taken with it, they’ve been clucking excitedly while exploring, rather like a group of girls in a new boutique. If you have a wooden hen house, reduce the amount of time you spend scrubbing it by lining the floor with remnants of cheap vinyl - simply turn up the sides and tip the droppings straight into the compost bin.

During summer, chickens love to dust-bathe. Shaking the soil in among their plumage helps them to keep cool and healthy, it removes excess oil from feathers and eliminates any pests. Your flock will burrow into the earth, often choosing areas by boundaries to create their hollows. You may wish to provide ready-made dust baths to prevent them undermining your fence. To do his, fill large, high-sided seed trays with dry soil, compost, sand and ash, then position in a shaded area.


 

HENKEEPING TIPS

  • Gather nettles (wearing protective gloves) then blanch them for a few minutes and freeze in small batches. Give them to your flock for a dose of vitamin c and iron.
  • Keep chickens healthy by worming them with a natural product such as verm-x.
  • Once a month hang bunches of fragrant herbs, including mint, rosemary or lavender, in the coops to mask odours which are especially pungent in the heat.

Click here for details of Suzie Baldwin's hen keeping courses at Hollywater Hens, and have a look at some more of Suzie's tips for keeping chickens

Blue hybrid Chicken

Keeping chickens – July tips

A hen keeper for more than 20 years with a 300 strong flock on her Hampshire / Surrey smallholding, chicken expert Suzie Baldwin from Hollywater Hens offers her advice and July tips for keeping chickens:

With my four children enjoying their summer break we have more time to provide entertainment for the hens. My sons have been dragging branches into the enclosures, and my daughters have placed compost mixed with Barrier Red Mite Powder in the dust baths. This prevents parasites and has a lovely herbal smell.

Long summer grass can cause problems, not only grounding the power for electric fences, but also forming balls that obstruct a chicken's crop (where they break down their food). So keep grass fairly short and provide grit. Deterring insects is another summer job; spray citronella around the coop and stick fly paper up out of the bird’s reach. Hang bunches of protein- and vitamin-rich dandelions in the run, and blanch and freeze some for the winter. You might find your girls begin to moult towards the end of this month. Growing new feathers can take up to eight weeks, so give them a boost with Battles Poultry Drink.

pink feeders 2

new enclosure 1

Click here for details of Suzie Baldwin's hen keeping courses at Hollywater Hens, and have a look at some more of Suzie's tips for keeping chickens

Merrist Wood College with their certificates of achievement and new Smallholders book

Merrist Wood College

Merrist Wood College with their certificates of achievement and new Smallholders book

We had a fantastic fun evening with Luke from Merrist Wood College and his smallholder group who were all presented with their certificates of achievement. Well done and lovely to meet you all, I hope you all enjoy my new smallholding book x

 

Merrist Wood is a 400-acre, multi-award winning College specialising in the land-based industries.

The College is widely recognised by industry specialists for its training and for its many successes at RHS Chelsea and Hampton Court Flower Shows. Work from the estate is known across the country and in other parts of the world.