No fun just now

Martin Gur­don has re­stricted his flock in line with DE­FRA ad­vice, and the birds aren’t that im­pressed

Your Chickens - - Chicken Crazy -

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

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