OUR POULTRY WRITERS
Terry Beebe, Lincolnshire
“Most chicken keepers I know took preventative measures by using trampoline sheets over the runs. However, unless this is very small mesh, it will still allow certain smaller birds access to the runs and coops.
“I penned my birds inside a closed coop and added an extra wire door to allow in plenty of fresh air, making sure there was no access from other birds no matter what the size.
“I also used a greenhouse for other birds. This is not ideal but it is bird proof and can be used during the winter – it would not be suitable when the weather is hot. I have put a cardboard box inside for them to get into at night, so protecting them from any condensation drips.
“On the floor of the greenhouse and the coop I used Bio Dry very heavily to keep the bedding dry and then used dust-free shavings and chopped straw, both of which have worked perfectly.
“All feed has been kept inside a closed shed and the water is changed every day with the drinker being cleaned at the same time.
“There have been reports that not everyone has taken precautions and, in some cases, it is impossible to completely isolate some large flocks.
“Ducks and geese do not fare well in confined areas and I feel sorry for these keepers. It must be a very serious problem for them to keep the birds in good health during these periods.
“Hopefully this situation will soon be resolved and everything can return to normal.”
Debbie Kingsley, Devon
“Goodness, it’s not making life easy for the smallholder. Every indoor nook and cranny, including our farrowing pen, has been turned over to ducks, geese and hens, trying to give them enough space so that their indoor confinement isn’t too horrendous. The best solution has been putting a gang of ducks into the polytunnel where they’ve had great fun chomping on weeds and slugs and have a palatial area to play in. The worst off are the geese and I can’t wait to let them out on grass again. The biggest frustration is that for years we’ve been registered with the GB Poultry Register so that DEFRA can contact us quickly in the event of a disease outbreak. Have we had any sort of direct notification? Not a quack.”
Sam Bowles, East Sussex
“The top of my enclosed hen house and run is covered with clear plastic sheeting. The sides, where the wire mesh is large enough for small wild birds to enter, has been covered in a mixture of plastic sheeting and fruit cage netting. A treadle feeder, which can only be operated by the hens, prevents contamination. Extra perches have been added as well as greens, apples and grit for varied diet. I have hung up old CDs to deter wild birds from the vicinity and the run floor is covered with chipped rubber, which I am able to rinse down with disinfectant daily. No one else deals with my hens and I always disinfect my boots when entering/leaving the run. No visitors allowed!”
ABOVE: Our writer Terry Beebe applies Bio Dri to a hen house to absorb moisture BELOW: A typical makeshift tarpaulin cover for a chicken run Photo:Anne Perdeaux