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Well, hell. It’s not going to be a very Merry Christmas for my girls, looks like. DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) has today issued a 30-day no-free-range order across England (other parts of the UK have their own separate governing bodies).

The Government Chief Vet has declared a Prevention Zone introducing enhanced biosecurity requirements for poultry and captive birds, helping protect them from a strain of avian flu circulating in mainland Europe. The zone covers England and will remain in place for 30 days.

Keepers of poultry and other captive birds are now required to keep their birds indoors, or take appropriate steps to keep them separate from wild birds.

Outbreaks of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (H5N8) have been confirmed in poultry and wild birds in several countries across Europe. No cases of H5N8 have been found in the UK and this order is a precautionary measure to help prevent potential infection from wild birds.

There’s no keeping ours inside, and it’s impossible to keep them entirely separate from wild birds. We live in an incredibly birdy area — by design. We’re a designated habitat for all sorts of birds, particularly ground-nesting waterfowl. They pay the farmers around here to make conditions hospitable (and when you pay a farmer for a thing, you’re bound to get a hell of a lot of it). But I’ll have to put a crimp in their free ranging for a miserable month. Poor little pecker-heads.

If you want to know more from DEFRA about the outbreak, click the link above or here.

Anybody know where I can get some xylophones?


Comment from QuasiModo
Time: December 6, 2016, 11:06 pm

Maybe you can play some banjo for them to keep them calm?…they can play xylophones in accompaniment :+)

Comment from Deborah HH
Time: December 7, 2016, 12:32 am

Dang, Stoaty. I hope you have the necessary disinfectants and equipment to treat the girls’ coop. Does this mean you have to swab the floors every day?

Comment from J.S.Bridges
Time: December 7, 2016, 1:14 am

So…chook xylophones are a “thing” now, hey?…

Hmmm-m-m…dunno, myself, ’bout xylophones – an’ I s’pose harmonicas are right out, yes?* – I think I’d try eBay, or mebbe Amazon – one or t’other’s got perty much everything, y’know?

Kinda hurtful, it would be, keeping previously-free-range chooks indoors 24/7 for a solid 30 days – chicken cabin-fever would not be a pleasant sight…

(*There’s a “chicken-lips” rib-tickler in there, somewhere, fer sure.)

Comment from Skandia Recluse
Time: December 7, 2016, 2:07 am

“Keep your chickens inside.”

My first thought was how, where, in the Kitchen? Back bedroom?

Then I remembered the chicken factory warehouses stuffed full of thousands of chickens or turkeys where the employees have to make regular sweeps through the building to pick up the dead birds.

Which led me to the question, how do you keep your factory warehouses from importing infected chickens? Obviously one would need a certificate of health, birds guaranteed to be free of contagions or your next shipment is free. And what differences in operation would these chicken factories implement when fear of Avian Flu is rampant upon the industry?

Yes, I have seen mass chicken inoculations, though I have some questions about that also.

I have no answers. Only questions.

Comment from Ric Fan
Time: December 7, 2016, 3:32 am

I’ll post this again. These people take their chickens very very seriously.

Chicken People:


Comment from EZnSF
Time: December 7, 2016, 3:40 am

Hey Stoaty McCertified Chicken Master, sorry about your new full-time housemates. And we all know they’ll end up spending a good bit of time next to the fireplace…..

But I have a question.
I’m thinking of getting my sister a couple of chickens for Christmas prez (and all the crap that goes along with it). Would pullets fall in love with her the same as chicks? I know birds impress at a young age. Thanks

I also have other questions, but won’t tax you at this time of chicken apartment stress. I’m googling like crazy, but there’s an avalanche of info.

Comment from EZnSF
Time: December 7, 2016, 3:47 am

Ric! Thanks for the link!!! 10 minutes in and I’m making popcorn.

Comment from Anne
Time: December 7, 2016, 3:55 am

Google “Clicker Training Chickens” or “chicken camps” and have some fun with them for the next month!

Comment from Ric Fan
Time: December 7, 2016, 3:57 am

EZnSF: My favorite is the guy from Branson. He really loves his chickens.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: December 7, 2016, 12:40 pm

EZ, I get my chooks at about six weeks old. Some bond pretty well and some don’t. I’m itching to get baby chicks, but that runs the risk of roosters.

Skandia: there are whole quarantine procedures for mixing new birds with old. The danger is, if something awful turns up in a local flock, they’ll kill all our birds.

Comment from EZnSF
Time: December 8, 2016, 2:30 am

Thanks Anne! Thanks Stoaty!

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