Poultry keepers urged to be vigilant of Newcastle Disease

DEFRA Press Release 25/7/18

Cases of Newcastle Disease reported in smallholder flocks and commercial poultry sites in Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg

Poultry keepers across the United Kingdom have been urged to be vigilant of Newcastle Disease following reported cases in flocks across Europe.

Recent cases in Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg have led to Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) experts to advise that the risk of the disease in UK flocks has risen from ‘low’ to ‘medium’.

Newcastle Disease is caused by a virulent strain of paramyxovirus and can be spread through direct contact with the bodily fluids of infected birds. It can cause severe losses in certain poultry species, including:

  • commercial and specialist breeds
  • pet chickens
  • other captive birds, including racing pigeons.

Public Health England advises the risk of Newcastle Disease affecting people is very low.

Christine Middlemiss, UK Chief Veterinary Officer, said:

The Animal and Plant Health Agency experts have advised that the risk of disease has risen to ‘medium’ following reports of Newcastle Disease in mainland Europe.

I urge all poultry keepers – whether of commercial, smallholder flocks or specialist breeds or pet chickens – to remain vigilant to the clinical signs of this disease, and urge them to put in place strong biosecurity measures to ensure the health and welfare of their birds.

Poultry species that are affected by Newcastle Disease may show the following clinical signs:

  • Respiratory distress, such as gaping beak, coughing, sneezing, gurgling and rattling
  • Nervous behaviour, such as tremors, paralysis and twisting of the neck
  • Unusually watery faeces that are yellowish-green in colour
  • Depression and a lack of appetite
  • Produce fewer eggs which could be misshapen and soft-shelled

If a bird keeper suspects that their birds may be infected with Newcastle Disease, they should contact their private vet and the APHA immediately.

There are several precautions poultry keepers can follow to further minimise the risk to their birds, including:

  • Ensuring, where appropriate, their birds have been vaccinated against the disease.
  • Implementing strict biosecurity measures on their premises, including using disinfectant foot baths and reducing visitors to the birds.
  • Thoroughly cleaning vehicles, equipment, clothing, boots that have been in contact with birds.
  • Feeding and watering should be under cover and kept away from wild birds.
  • Washing their hands with soap and water after handling their own birds.

For APHA contact details visit here

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What goes in must come out – the blindness of backyard poultry keepers?

Following a recent exchange on Twitter this still seems very current, with the ignorance (and in some respects, arrogance) of so-called experienced poultry keepers not quite getting the concept of livestock, and what you put in, will invariably come out.

ChickenStreet

Smack your chick up? Smack your chick up?

I’m quite vocal at times about the contrast between commercial poultry rearing and small scale or backyard keeping. I can be quite damning about some the legislation because I’m a great believer that in a large majority of cases one size doesn’t fit all. In fact the concept of one size fitting all seems to stem from the issue that pragmatism and scalability get side-lined. This is either because they are too expensive or are only relevant to ‘the little people’ who, by definition, are irrelevant in the grand scheme of the poultry world!

It follows on then that given my documented opinions I am sometimes challenged by people as to whether my attitude stems from a belief that small scale poultry keepers know better than the big boys and the authorities, or whether I’m just an outspoken idiot. I guess when I put these commentaries…

View original post 666 more words

Egg producers urged to be ready to protect from ‘year round’ bird flu threat – Farming UK News

Last year I predicted this threat could well become a reality in terms of keeping birds indoors and under cover for 6 months of the year. I didn’t want to imagine it could become a year round issue. There will be some tough decisions and tough times ahead for backyarders, the Fancy and poultry shows if this is what the future holds.

Source: Egg producers urged to be ready to protect from ‘year round’ bird flu threat – Farming UK News

Untimely broodiness – breaking the habit

In normal circumstances I welcome broody chickens with open arms (although given the manner of some of my broodies I mean that metaphorically as you would be lucky to get anywhere near them!) However during the late summer months, and in particular during July and August, it can be a real problem if you find a hen that drops.

Not only are these months amongst the hottest in the UK calendar that can make the hen house an uncomfortable environment for a sitting bird, they are when the breeding season is over for me and even if I have fertile eggs available I don’t want young chicks being reared by a hen so close to the weather turning for the year.

There are other reasons too why the broody is unwelcome at this time of year. Firstly it is when that nemesis of the poultry keeper, the Red Mite, is at its peak. You might not have a red mite problem but a broody sat on a nest in Red Mite season can be an absolute magnet for these and other external parasites that can all too easily knock a bird out of condition. If this happens earlier in the year then there’s usually ample time for the hen to recover and recondition, but in August the moult, and the winter, are just around the corner and the bird should be ranging, building up reserves for what’s coming rather than depleting energy stores wasting her time sitting around on an empty nest.

This is when you need to deploy the Broody Buster.

Physiologically, a hen is designed to brood eggs as part of their reproductive process and the cycle of brooding in chickens is approximately 21 days from the point when they first start to incubate to hatching. During this time she will rarely leave the nest other than to quickly feed and drink. Her preening, dust bathing and feather care will also be curtailed and she will lose weight, lose condition and potentially pick up external parasites.  If the eggs are fertile, and hatch successfully, the hen will leave the nest and care for her brood and also start to care for herself again. As such, the 21 day period is survivable for the hen and should not have any adverse impact on her long term health. However, if a hen is left to brood with no prospect of a successful hatch there is a significant risk she will remain broody for much longer than the 3 week period and in doing so damage her health (aside from it inducing other hens in the flock to become broody).

Brooding is primarily the desire to nest; incubating and hatching is secondary, shown by the fact a hen will brood fresh air if her internal switch is flicked. In order to break this behaviour it is necessary to place the hen in a non-nesting friendly place. The quarantine cage is an ideal piece of kit to use. First remove the plastic tray and place it on top of the cage as a roof (if the base is not removable then simply turn the cage upside down so the base now acts as a roof). Place the cage on two bricks in an exposed but shady outdoor position. Add food and water, and then place the hen in the cage. This can be done within the flock enclosure or away from the main group. The hen will protest and this is when a battle of wills takes place between the keeper and the hen. She will not like being unable to nest and will want to return to her favoured location. She will, however, settle. If, after a couple of days, her behaviour seems more normal (pre-broody) she can be returned to the flock. If she again becomes broody then repeat the process for a few days longer this time. Eventually she’ll lose the desire to nest, at least until the next time.

It might seem a little harsh but it can save a lot of heart ache and hard work.…. at least until the next time she growls at you from the nest box.

A Brief Appearance on BBC Midlands Today talking about Avian Flu

In case you don’t live in the Midlands area or didn’t get to see me pointing out of the anomalies in one country applying HRAs (High Risk Areas) and the neighbouring country not following suit.

 

My thanks to David for picking up on the story, it ran for most of the day and gave the issue and avian flu some much needed coverage

(it even fulfilled a life time ambition of mine by making it on to Farming Today on Radio 4)