Avian Flu: Advice for backyard poultry keepers
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Avian Flu: Advice for backyard poultry keepers

Doug Alexander

With all the recent and ongoing outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), or Avian Flu for short, backyard poultry keepers are having to continue to take measures to prevent their birds being infected.

It is likely that Avian Flu is present in birds in this area already, although there have been no confirmed outbreaks in the Chichester or Bognor Regis districts.

Ideally, all birds should be kept in suitable buildings, where possible, with additional precautions such as putting up netting, keeping food and water inside and disinfecting footwear and equipment after contact with birds.

The risk comes from wild birds that may be infected with the H5N8 strain of the Avian Flu virus. This can be transmitted both by direct contact and on other objects that may have been contaminated with bird faeces for example.

The authorities have extended the avian influenza prevention zones that were introduced across Great Britain on 6th December 2016, until 28th February 2017.

DEFRA has also issues a very useful Factsheet which can be downloaded at:


There is also a short video on how to reduce the risk on infection at


Obviously, the lengthening of the restrictions on backyard poultry is likely to cause additional welfare issues. Keeping poultry indoors that are used to foraging outside runs the risk of behavioural and other stress-related conditions developing. Being inventive in regard to giving these birds something to keep them occupied is vital. Hiding dried mealworms in bales of straw, hanging vegetables around their enclosures, using compost from covered compost bins and various commercial toys are all ideas that may be useful.

Unfortunately, the risk currently is very real, so all of us who keep birds of whatever sort, especially outside, need to remain very vigilant and careful in what we do.

If you have any particular issues that you are concerned about, please do call us and we will give you the most up to date advice.