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.


Why Won’t My Hens Perch?

We recently received an email from one of our customers asking if we had any advice for her as her hens were no longer using the perches in their hen house.

We turned to you, our fantastically knowledgeable Facebook and Twitter followers, to see if you had any advice on encouraging chickens to use their perch. Here’s what you said:


“Are they ex-bat hens? If so, they probably won’t perch but will snuggle up in the nest boxes. None of our ex-bats have ever perched!”
“Mine don’t perch, they are ex bats. They did perch in their old house but the perches were only a couple of inches off the floor. They seem perfectly happy on the floor/ in the nest boxes so no worries here.”
chickens perch
“The hen might not know about perching, so pick up the hen, hover her over the perch then let her feet go on it and slowly take your hands away and let her settle? Just an idea.”
“Borrow a hen from a friend that does perch.”
“Block the nest box till morning, nest boxes are for laying not for sleeping!”
chicks perch
We thought your advice was great and our customer decided to try a lower perch, so we shipped one off immediately. Thank you to every one who took the time to reply and make suggestions to solve the perching problem.

Setting Up Your Battery Operated Electric Poultry Netting System

Meriel Younger, from Electric Fencing Direct, joins us again on the blog and continues her guide to electric poultry netting kits. 

Your battery electric netting kit has arrived, you have never seen an electric fence before, and have no idea how to put it up… here are some pointers and useful tips.

Battery Operated Kit Contains:

  • Electric netting including posts
  • Guys and pegs (for bottom line) and netting repair kit
  • Battery Powered Energiser and Earth Stake (the energiser spec depends on the number of nets)
  • Electric Fence Warning Sign
  • 12v Battery (Leisure/Agri battery preferably as will hold power longer)

battery operated electric fence

Preparing the Area:

  • Clear the area of any debris – i.e. sticks and large stones and ensure there are no branches or plants that could touch the netting and short it.
  • Mow or lay dpc or spray the grass where the netting is going to stand.

Setting Up Your Battery Operated Kit:

  1. Locate the Energiser close to the net (this can be at the end or middle of a net) and push its stand and earth into the ground. Please keep the energiser off the ground to prevent it getting damp. (For Solar Units ensure the solar panel is facing south and out of shade so it receives the maximum amount of sunshine)
  2. Link the earth cable on the Energiser to the supplied earth stake using the green crocodile clip. For a multiple earth system, locate earths 1m away from each other and link via lead out cable.
  3. Link the live cable on the energiser to the metal clip on the net or the top line of the netting with the red crocodile clip. DO NOT attach the crocodile clip to a vertical line in the net (as these are not electrified).
  4. Link up the two battery leads, (black EARTH first, then red LIVE). When switching the energiser on you will see the Energiser flashing indicating it is sending pulses. To disconnect the Energiser from the battery, switch off, take red LIVE off first then black EARTH.
  5. Solar Assist: attach the solar panels clips on to the appropriate battery terminal and then attach energiser clips on to battery terminals.


To Set Up The Netting:

  1. Lay out the net in roughly in the position you want the net to be.
  2. Put the first/start post in to the ground.
  3. Go around the netting putting the posts into the ground – use your foot to pull the bottom of the post to ensure tension in the netting.
  4. Position your hot gate if you have one – connect by using the metal clips on the netting
  5. Your netting doesn’t have be in a circle… it can be in a straight line if required.
  6. Once your netting is up tweak its position and use your guy ropes (half way up the post) to put tension in corners or on long straight sections. Use netting clips to lift any sagging sections or reposition the posts with your foot to get better tension.  Wooden corner posts can be used to give extra tension to netting but the netting must NOT touch the wooden post or it will short.  Peg down the bottom line – it is not electrified.

electric fence 


Once all is connected you should ideally test your net with an Electric Fence Tester. It must be greater than 3000v to be effective.

If below 3000v you have:

  • You have too much earthing (listen for a clicking sound) reposition net posts so that live lines do not touch the ground, slightly leaning the posts outwards sometimes helps, otherwise add netting clips or more posts.
  • Poor connection between the Energiser and net (you may even see it sparking at night).
  • Poor connection between Energiser and earth stake.
  • Battery needs re-charging (take live line off the net and test voltage output of wire).
  • An equipment failure.

Further Notes:

  • The Nets: Keep vegetation away from the net (i.e. by mowing or if in a semi-permanent position by spraying or lay down a strip of heavy material e.g. damp course under the net).
  • Additional nets: are linked by slotting the end clips together and then tie together with the green cord provided.
  • Gates: Hotgate is an easy way to access an enclosure. It has an insulated handle and a foot plate for the moving post to slot into.
  • Set Up Tips: Do not try to pull the net too taught during set up. Once the net is up, re-position individual posts until the net stands up right. If you have undulating land or are very exposed you may need more posts and/or net tensioners, which will minimize sag. (To insert follow instructions for adding the ‘Gate Post’) Setting the posts at a slight angle outwards can also help improve tension.
  • 12v Battery: For best results use a ‘Deep Cycle’ battery (e.g. a fencing/agri battery) with a minimum output of 30 amp hours for the smaller Energisers, or a minimum of 60amp hours for larger Energisers. These should last approx. 4-12 weeks between charges. Car batteries are not recommended, they are not designed to be discharged and will let you down.

electric netting

We love talking electric fencing… so if you need to contact us: call 01620 860058 or email info@electricfencing.co.uk


Components of a Poultry Netting Kit Explained – Part 2

Meriel Younger, from Electric Fencing Direct, joins us again on the blog and continues her guide to electric poultry netting kits. 

poultry netting

Last week the guide covered:

  1. Mains, Battery or Battery/Solar – which power is best for you?
  2. Which Energiser – which energiser is best for you?
  3. Earth Stakes – are these essential?
  4. Netting – which one is best for your hens?

If you missed last week’s post, you can read it here.

This week we’re going to look at:

  1. Access to the Netting Enclosure – how do you get into your netting enclosure?
  2. Accessories for Electric Netting
  3. Electric Fencing for a Permanent Enclosure


Access to the Netting Enclosure

For many years electric netting simply had an extra fence post placed at one end of the netting and this was used as a swivel gate – i.e. the netting swivelled around on this post as you moved the end post to access the enclosure.  Last year, Hotline Electric Fencing developed a ‘hot gate‘.  The hot gate comes in two heights – 1.1m and 1.2m.  It can easily be added on to the end of a net and the power transfer is completed by connecting the two metal clips.

The main advantages of the ‘hot gate’ are two-fold: 1) the gate can be opened with-out having to turn the power off as the gate has an insulated handle 2) the movable gate post has no spike and so is slotted into a foot plate – meaning that in wet weather this post will not make a mess of the grass as you go in and out of the enclosure as it is not being pulled in and out of the ground all the time.  There are also netting gates which constitute a couple of posts and a section of netting – nothing fancy but will do the job.

  1. Accessories for Electric Netting

Sometimes if your ground is very windy or exposed it is advised that you should add extra posts to your kit to help prevent sagging and to create good tension in the netting.  The extra strong corner posts come in two sizes 1.1m and 1.2m.  They are actually slightly taller than the netting and so can tension the net too.  These extra strong corner posts and any extra post can easily be fitted into the netting.  The netting will come to you as it left the factory… the posts are set in specific positions… but if this doesn’t work for your set up … move the posts.  They are easy to undo and replace.

The bottom line of an electric fence is not electrified and should be pegged down.

Guy ropes should be used – these come with yellow pegs.  Guy ropes should be attached to posts in the corners and should be attached half way up the post and then tensioned out the way.  Putting up an electric net without its guy ropes is similar to putting up a tent without guy ropes!

Fence testers – I guess you could use your finger… but it is not all that pleasant!  Use your tester regularly to check for shorting (i.e. foliage growing up around the bottom of the fence) and to see if your battery needs charged.

  1. Electric Fencing for a Permanent Enclosure

Perhaps you already have a permanent enclosure in place and would like to make it doubly secure?  Why not add a couple of lines of electric fencing around the enclosure?

permanent electric fencing

…Last but not least here are a few set up tips:

  • Ensure you use a tester to check that you are getting enough zap around your fence – should be at least 3000v.
  • The bottom line is not electrified but the next horizontal line up is. Use guy ropes and extra posts to help lift the net and prevent sagging.  If the second line up touches the ground it will cause shorting.  It is possible to cut the second horizontal line at both ends to prevent it touching the ground and therefore shorting.
  • If you have not got enough power going through your netting (less than 3000v) please check that the netting is not touching any of the metal prongs. Please make sure you have not attached the netting to any wooden posts.

We love talking electric fencing… so if you need to contact us: call 01620 860058 or email info@electricfencing.co.uk


Components of a Poultry Netting Kit Explained – Part 1

Meriel Younger, from Electric Fencing Direct, joins us on the blog this week and explains what components are required when looking for an electric poultry netting kit. 

electric poultry netting

Whether you have an egg producing business, or you simply have a few hens in your back garden, you may be confused as to which electric fence system would suit your hens’ needs best and most importantly keep Mr Fox out!

This week, we will look at the following:

  1. Mains, Battery or Battery/Solar – which power is best for you?
  2. Which Energiser – which energiser is best for you?
  3. Earth Stakes – are these essential?
  4. Netting – which one is best for your hens?

Next week, we’ll cover:

  1. Access to the Netting Enclosure – how do you get into your netting enclosure?
  2. Accessories for Electric Netting
  3. Electric Fencing for a Permanent Enclosure


  1. Mains, Battery or Battery & Solar?

Mains – is the easiest power source to use.  It can be left running or put on a timer to come on at certain times of day.  Make sure your mains energiser is kept in dry conditions – a lead out cable will run power from your energiser to your fence.

Battery – if your fencing is too far away from the mains then battery is the way forward.  Make sure you use a leisure battery rather than a car battery.  Leisure batteries cost more but last longer between charges as they are slow release.  Keep testing your fence to see how much power is going through the fence – as soon as this drops, charge your battery.

Battery/Solar – if you want to run a solar energiser you will still need a source of power i.e. a battery.  The energy from the sun is used to trickle feed the battery.  So you don’t have to charge it so often.  Be sure to test your fence regularly and keep an eye on the power levels when there have been a few dull days in a row.

  1. Which Energiser?

Always consider powering up when setting up an electric netting system.  Netting takes more energy and a higher powered energiser to make it an effective barrier.  Think ahead… are you going to extend your enclosure?  How many nets could you end up joining together?  Power up and choose an energiser that is going to push plenty of zap through the netting.

  1. Earth Stakes

Who would have thought that a piece of metal could be so important!  The earth stake or earth spike is a crucial part of any electric fencing system.  How dry is the ground where the netting is going to be set up?  Is it very stony?  Are there lots of tree roots?  There are different types of earth stake – the heavy duty T Section earth stakes have a larger surface area and so ensure a better zap.


  1. Netting

Measuring up is very important… a 50m net can take up more space than you think.  It is possible however to roll the netting up at one end (always put some heavy duty plastic under the rolled up section to prevent grass growing up through the netting).

Here is a basic guide to each of our nets …

  1. Standard Poultry Nets (25 or 50m)
  • 1m netting – close mesh
  • single pronged thin posts
  • netting comes with posts, pegs, guy ropes, warning sign
  • can be clipped together to extend enclosure
  1. Premium Poultry Nets (25 or 50m)
  • 22m high netting – close mesh
  • double pronged medium weight posts throughout
  • netting comes with posts, pegs, guy ropes, warning sign
  • can be clipped together to extend enclosure
  • a 1.2m netting hot gate can be added (but is not included)
  1. Professional Poultry Nets (50m)
  • 22m high netting – close mesh
  • double pronged strong posts throughout
  • double pronged heavy duty corner posts
  • netting comes with posts, pegs, guy ropes, warning sign
  • can be clipped together to extend enclosure
  • a 1.2m netting hot gate can be added (but is not included)

Tune in next week for part two of the guide to electric poultry netting kits!

We love talking electric fencing… so if you need to contact us: call 01620 860058 or email info@electricfencing.co.uk


Going on Holiday? What To Do with Your Hens

It’s the time of year when you’re starting to think about your summer holiday and where you’d like to go for some much needed R&R.

chicken in a holiday suitcase

Whether you’re looking for fun in the sun or you prefer to find some summer snow there are plenty of options for the adventurous traveller.

However, if you have chickens you’ll also need to consider who’s going to care for them whilst you’re away. Luckily there are a variety of options and your hens will probably enjoy their summer holiday as much as you enjoy yours.

Here are some ideas that will make sure your hens are looked after and your holiday can go without a hitch.

Helpful Neighbours, Friends and Family

You’ll usually find that neighbours, friends, and family are willing to help look after hens – particularly with the promise of free eggs!

Remember to leave them with enough food and clear instructions about what’s expected of them. It might also be a good idea to give them a number of a chicken friendly vet or fellow chicken keeper in case they’re worried about one of the flock.

Automated Equipment

This can be a good option if you’re only going away for an evening or weekend and your hens have a secure enclosure. This option might also work for you if you can only arrange for someone to visit once per day.

You can purchase automatic pop holes and feeders that will make sure your chickens are secure and fed. A large water drinker should be adequate for a day until your chicken sitter can visit and top it up.

Other chicken Keepers

It’s always good to get friendly with other chicken keepers as you can share chicken sitting duties between you. if you’re going away for more than a week try organising a rota between your other chicken keeping friends so you’re not leaving one person with the responsibility of keeping your hens happy.

Holidays for Hens

If you’re going away, why shouldn’t your hens? There are companies all across the UK which offer 5* accommodation for your feathered companions so they can live in luxury whilst you’re away.

chickens with holiday suitcases

Here are just some, with a few words about what they can offer your flock:

Animal Aunts Ltd.

“We arrange for Aunts to live in our client’s home when they go away, to look after everything they hold dear. Their home is kept clean and tidy, plants watered and garden kept ticking over. Meanwhile all animals large and small will be looked after to their normal routine.

Chickens will be let out early morning and locked safely away in the evenings (unless they have automatic door closers and electric fences which is how we have ours here at HQ). All animals will be fed and watered, loved and tended as if they were our own, dogs will be walked, horses exercised if necessary, Animal Aunts have looked after any property, any animal, anywhere for 30 years.”


The Hen Hotel

“I am Hilary, a retired teacher with many years experience of poultry as a hobby and I have been potty about chickens for many years. I’ve kept them as pets both in France and in the UK. I have a great deal of knowledge about caring for the birds.  I know how important it is to keep them disease free and the steps to take at the first sign of problems.  I hold regular courses on chicken care.

I constantly protect all our friends from red mite, I keep their feathers glossy by good food and care – I give them treats every day and of course, cuddles for the poultry guests that want them.”


The Chicken Hotel

“A new and exciting hotel in Helston (Cornwall) exclusively for our feathered friends!

Want chickens but don’t know what you’d do if you went away for a weekend or on holiday? Well you can let your chickens have a short holiday break in The Chicken Hotel!

We offer an economical chicken boarding service similar to a cattery or kennels. We now offer accommodation to ducks on an equal opportunities basis.”




N.B – Jim Vyse Arks does not endorse any of these hen sitting companies – although we’re sure they’re all very lovely!


Photo credits: Backyard Chickens, Countryside Network

Summer Treats for Your Hot Chicks!

We all love a treat from time to time and your chickens are no exception to this rule. Occasional treats are a great way to bond with your birds and they can be useful if you’re trying to help them beat the heat this summer.

chickens in the grass

As a general rule you shouldn’t give chickens treats when it’s hot as digestion promotes increased internal body temperature. However, frozen and cooling foods can be particularly welcome when the weather hots up.

Here’s a quick list of frozen treats that will help them keep cool:

  • Frozen mint ice cubes – it’s long been known that mint has cooling properties both for humans and animals. Freezing chopped up mint leaves in an ice cube tray and giving them to your hens will give them something to do and help them cool down. You can also add extras such as peas and diced strawberry to the ice cubes for an additional treat.
  • Frozen berries – try throwing a handful of frozen berries into a bucket of cool water and watch your hens go mad for them!
  • Frozen fruit smoothie – if a frozen fruit smoothie sounds delicious to you then it probably will to your hens as well. Including a bit of natural yoghurt can also help your hens’ digestion.
  • Frozen watermelon – you can cube it, slice it, or cut it into quarters, then put it in the freeze until frozen and give to your flock as a fruity frozen snack.
  • Frozen veg – vegetables such as sweetcorn makes a great frozen treat. Freeze it in a muffin tin and put a few portions out in the morning to keep your hens occupied throughout the day.

frozen sweetcorn

Remember, treats alone won’t keep your hens cool so you’ll need to take other measures to ensure your hens are happy and healthy in the heat. Here’s a little reminder of some of the tips we gave you a few weeks ago:

  • Provide as much clean, fresh water as you possibly can, especially in shady spots where your hens will hide in the hottest part of the day.
  • Increase ventilation in the coop by opening all doors and windows. You may also want to leave the chicken house windows open overnight if it’s safe to do so.
  • Create some shade using tarpaulin, patio umbrellas, wind breaks, and ornamental plants in pots.
  • Keep bedding in the chicken house to minimum – save the deep littering for the winter!
  • Give your hens a shallow paddling pool so they can cool their feet and avoid the hot earth.
  • Make sure your chickens have a shaded area to dust bathe in. Not only do they do this to keep clean, but it also helps them to keep cool.

chickens drinking

Have you got any tips for helping hens to stay cool in the summer? We’d love to hear from you if you do!


Photo credits: Pets4Homes and Pinterest