Controlling the spread of Avian Flu in poultry
With the new housing order coming in to place on 14th December it is imperative that all producers keep their flocks entertained during this period. Like the two COVID19 lockdown’s poultry need to be entertained just like humans. Our brains had to be kept active to avoid the feeling of ‘cabin fever’ and so many of us turned to DIY and baking. Poultry need a similar distraction to keep them entertained during their own lockdown period.
The Chief Veterinary Officers for Scotland, England and Wales have agreed to bring in these new measures to help control the spread of Avian Influenza in both wild and captive birds across the UK. Therefore, this housing order covers all birds, including small backyard flocks. Strict biosecurity measures must be adhered to during this time.
The time between now and 14th December will give poultry keepers time to prepare for these new measures which will include aspects of safeguarding their flocks for animal welfare.
Enrichment improves poultry welfare
Enrichment can significantly improve poultry welfare and productivity by supressing any harmful behaviours such as feather pecking. Hens are stimulated by visual enrichment, particularly those involving movement.
If possible, any hanging objects should be moved around the shed every so often to keep the birds’ interest. Any simple form of stimulus can be added to your shed, for example, hanging white string and tying a knot in the end, creates an attractive pecking stimulus which will keep the hens entertained for hours.
It has been shown in many study’s that the edition of string to a poultry shed can reduce feather pecking. This solution is low cost, readily available, easy to install and high durability.
Nutritional benefits for improved egg production
Adding lucerne bails to your sheds is another option for enrichment. Although more costly, it will add other nutritional benefits. Lucerne, or Alfalfa bales, keeps hens active to divert them from pecking and teaches them to scratch, encouraging natural behaviour. However, it also stimulates digestion by adding more fibre in the gut and therefore creating a healthy intestinal flora. The lucerne is usually finely chopped and hard pressed to try and keep the birds entertained for long periods of time.
Pecking blocks are another enrichment that can be added to your shed. There is an array of products on offer so chose one that suits your specific needs.
Some blocks may be cheap, but their aim is to simply keep the birds entertained. Other blocks may have nutritional values; keeping birds entertained and aiding towards bird health.
This housing order has been put in place to avoid your birds contracting and spreading AI.
However, it is imperative that stopping birds’ natural behaviour does not affect the performance of your farm. Get ahead of the game and prepare your poultry sheds for the Poultry Lockdown 2020.
Contact our poultry specialists for more information.