No fun just now
Martin Gurdon has restricted his flock in line with DEFRA advice, and the birds aren’t that impressed
My sense is that this one still has some way to run
It’s no fun being a chicken at the moment. Ours are confined to their house with half the run space they’d normally enjoy. This is because our three ducks are imprisoned in the other aviary the hens would normally use. Instead of a pond and a nice big duck house, the ducks are putting up with a rather careworn little box with a pitched roof, a baby bath and an orange B&Q bucket.
This is thanks to the Government’s edict to keep domestic birds under cover, thanks to the latest bird flu outbreak to sweep Europe (I’ve been reading about a Dutch duck cull involving 190,000 birds).
Inevitably, things will have moved on by the time you read this, a function of Your Chickens being a monthly magazine that needs words some weeks in advance of publication, but my sense is that this one still has some way to run.
Flu is a constant in wild bird populations, just as it is in human ones, and my understanding is that a variation of this HN58 virus reached these shores a couple of years ago, but it’s turned into something that’s particularly virulent for birds unlucky enough to catch it.
How long it will take to make its way through the UK’s wild bird population is a moot point, but it’s surely going to be around for a while, and has already had an impact on domestic flocks.
I thought DEFRA seemed to be pretty well on the front foot with this one, and that Nigel Gibbens, the chief vet, struck the right tone with his domestic bird curfew when he popped up on Radio 4’s Today programme. His message was not to panic and while feeding birds in their houses was a good idea, banging them up in these fetid places wasn’t. ‘Don’t shut them up in boxes,’ seemed to be his mantra.
ABOVE: It is a bit like prison just now! INSET: Bea, one of Martin’s flock