Avian Flu Prevention Zone – 2018

The latest situation on the Avian Flu outbreak in the UK is that DEFRA have announced a UK wide Prevention Zone from January 18th 2018 for anyone who keeps poultry or captive birds.

This means that:

If you keep poultry you must, by law, follow specific disease prevention measures. These apply to all keepers of birds, regardless of flock size, or if your birds are pets. These are designed to reduce the risk of infection from wild birds.

If you keep birds then you can continue to allow your birds outdoors into fenced areas, but only if these areas meet certain conditions including:

  • you have made the areas unattractive to wild birds, for example by netting ponds, and by removing wild bird food sources
  • you have taken action to reduce any existing contamination, such as cleansing and disinfecting concrete areas, and fencing off wet or boggy areas
  • you have assessed the risk of birds coming into contact with wild birds or contamination from them

If you keep more than 500 birds, you must take some extra biosecurity measures. They include identifying clearly defined areas where access by non-essential people and vehicles is restricted, and cleaning and disinfecting vehicles, equipment and footwear.

DEFRA gives the following biosecurity advice to all poultry keepers in order to reduce the risk of the disease spreading and contaminating UK flocks:

  • minimise movement in and out of bird enclosures
  • clean footwear before and after visiting birds, using a Defra approved disinfectant at entrances and exits
  • clean and disinfect vehicles and equipment that have come into contact with poultry
  • keep areas where birds live clean and tidy, and regularly disinfect hard surfaces such as paths and walkways
  • humanely control rats and mice
  • place birds’ food and water in fully enclosed areas protected from wild birds, and remove any spilled feed regularly
  • keep birds separate from wildlife and wild waterfowl by putting suitable fencing around outdoor areas they access
  • keep a close watch on birds for any signs of disease and report any very sick birds or unexplained deaths to your vet

Whether you keep just a few birds as pets or have a much larger flock, good biosecurity is essential for maintaining their health and happiness.

You can register with DEFRA in order to be kept up to date on the Avian Flu situation. If you have 50 or more birds, you should register with DEFRA within one month of their arrival. More information can be found here.

This handy poster gives simple advice for all poultry keepers. It may be worth printing a few copies and giving them to other local poultry keeping friends and family.


Happy Homes for Happy Turkey

Keeping turkey as pets (or for Christmas) is becoming increasingly popular, and if you’ve ever spent any time with these magnificent birds then you won’t struggle to see why.

Bronze Turkey Stag

They can be noisy, especially adult male birds (stags), which is something to consider if you live in close proximity to neighbours who wouldn’t be as enamoured with your new pets as you are.

These impressive birds are very majestic looking, particularly stags in full summer plumage, and hens have surprisingly pretty heads for big birds.

Although turkey eggs are not commonly found in the shops, they make a wonderful alternative to chicken or duck eggs and can easily be swapped in when cooking. Personally, scrambled turkey eggs are our favourite way of eating them!

Original old breeds of turkey, not commercial hybrids, are fairly hardy birds. However, this doesn’t mean that they don’t need shelter from the elements, and of course you’ll need to offer them protection from predators overnight.

If you’re considering buying your first turkeys then there are a few things you’ll need to bear in mind when thinking about their housing.

The great outdoors

Turkeys, unlike some other breeds of poultry, prefer to spend as much of their time as possible living outside. This means that a secure, good sized poultry pen, is a must have for any turkey keeper.

Turkeys also like to spend a considerable amount of time grazing, grass makes up around 50% of their diet, so the pen is best located on pasture. They’ll need a covered roosting area and it is best to purchase housing designed specifically for turkey keeping, rather than modifying chicken housing.

Electric fence around the perimeter of the house, pen and pasture will help to deter predators.

Royal Palm Turkey

Home sweet home

For a trio of turkeys, usually a stag and two hens, housing of 8ft x 6ft should be plenty big enough.

If you’re thinking of keeping a few more, up to six, then a 12ft x 8ft house will give them ample room overnight.

Of course, the more space the better, and you may prefer a walk-in shed style design for easy cleaning, egg collection, and increased ventilation.

Your turkeys will be able to live outside during the day from around 8-12 weeks of age. If you already keep chickens then a single turkey should happily live with them. However, turkeys are always happiest when they have companions of the same species.

Ideally any turkey housing should be moveable, skids or wheels make moving housing easy, to prevent a build-up of manure and allow for thorough cleaning.

The roosts/perches ought to be built all at the same height to prevent your turkeys fighting over the top spot. Lightweight metal or fibreglass roof panels will provide protection from the elements.

For young birds (under 5-6 months) a bale of straw will provide hours of entertainment and a suitable night-time resting place until a purpose built perch is added into the house.

As we said above, turkeys love to graze, so they’ll need access to pasture outside of their pen. Remember that turkeys can, and will fly, meaning that fencing will need to be at least 4ft high.

You might also want to consider netting over your fence to provide extra protection and prevent your turkeys roosting in neighbouring trees!

Turkey Poults


Photo credits: Poultry Pages, Amy Martin Pachay, Heritage Turkeys