It's one year ago today that H5N8 avian flu restrictions were imposed on all UK poultry keepers whether large scale commercial enterprises or those keeping a couple of hens in their back garden. The restrictions were eventually lifted at the end of February this year.
One of the most irksome aspect of the restrictions, for those that troubled themselves to apply them, was the requirement to keep birds indoors or, if that was not possible, to net run areas to ensure wild birds had no access to poultry. This generally meant poultry had a much smaller area to range, whether indoors or outdoors, and consequently greater effort was needed to keep their housing and run areas clean. For commercial free range poultry keepers there was potential loss of the 'free range' appellation and the premium price at which their eggs sold. Eggs were re-labelled 'barn produced'.
Fortunately, so far there have been only limited avian flu outbreaks in Europe this winter even though the wild bird migratory season is well underway. DEFRA's Animal and Plant Health Agency, in their latest update, report incidences of avian flu in wild birds in Germany, wild birds and poultry in Italy and in a poultry in Bulgaria. No outbreaks in the UK to date. With any luck we will be able to avoid the experience of last winter.
I have previously written of some preparations I undertook last summer so that I can restrict our 40 or so birds to a fully enclosed area in a trice should I need to. Hopefully, this won't be necessary. I have, however, continued with additional bio-security precautions, such as keeping food and water covered and having a disinfectant foot bath at the entrance to the chicken enclosure.