Posted: Sun 4th Dec 2022

RSPCA issues advice on protecting pet birds and poultry during bird flu restrictions

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Sunday, Dec 4th, 2022

Poultry keepers have been urged to provide extra enrichment for their pets to keep them ‘hentertained’ – as the Welsh Government’s new biosecurity and housing requirements sees poultry and captive birds placed under lockdown.

On Monday Lesley Griffiths, Minister for Rural Affairs and North Wales, announced that from Friday 2 December – it will be a legal requirement for all keepers to keep their birds indoors or otherwise separated from wild birds in Wales.

All keepers must also complete and act upon a bespoke biosecurity review of the premises where birds are kept. These new measures are in addition to those in the Wales Avian Influenza Prevention Zone.

The RSPCA is strongly recommending that owners and keepers in Wales follow fully the Welsh Government’s measures and advice.

Kate Norman, poultry expert at the RSPCA, said: “We are sadly once again in the midst of a bird flu outbreak which has seen the Welsh Government take the necessary steps to issue legal requirements for all keepers of birds in Wales.

“This follows measures from the Wales Avian Influenza Prevention Zone and orders imposed in England.

“Sadly, we fear these restrictions are going to become more and more frequent so it’s important that bird keepers understand what they need to do to stop the spread of the disease – while taking steps to ensure the welfare of their birds at these difficult times.

“Keeping hens has become increasingly popular in recent years so it’s important that owners follow the biosecurity advice, staying vigilant for signs of disease and ill health in their flocks, and seeking veterinary advice if they have any concerns for their birds.

“It’s also important to report any suspected outbreaks of avian influenza.

“We would encourage all pet poultry owners to register their birds with the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) so they can contact owners if there’s a disease outbreak in their area.”

Advice has also been offered to pet owners on how to keep their flock ‘hentertained’ whilst the housing orders are in place and beyond.

From straw bales to hanging pieces of corn on the cob and tyres with sand in the middle, there are plenty of ways that pet owners can keep their birds happy indoors.

Other tips from the RSPCA include:

  • Provide perches – hens naturally like to access raised perches where they will rest during the day and preen their feathers
  • Straw bales and vegetables – providing these items give the hens something to peck at to encourage them to exhibit their natural behaviour and keep them active *Important do not feed kitchen scraps to poultry*
  • Tyres filled with sand in the middle – this is a nifty way of encouraging hens to dust bathe which is something they’d usually do outside
  • Verandas – if it is possible create a veranda for your ‘hen house’ this allows them to have more space, get natural light and fresh air while still keeping them safe from bird flu. Ensuring there is a solid cover on the roof such as perspex will reduce the risk of wild birds droppings entering the run.
  • Make a puzzle feeder out of old egg cartons or balls with a hole in the middle

Kate added: “Moving cockerels and hens indoors, who have previously had access to the outside, can be quite stressful for them which is why it’s really important to make sure they have lots of enrichment to keep them happy.

“Having nothing to do can lead to boredom, stress and contribute to problems such as feather pecking.”

For more information on what bird keepers need to do, please visit the Welsh Government’s website.

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