Chicken Boarding during Avian Flu season
Can I run my chicken boarding business?
Yes. You are able to move poultry from one location to another… So when you go on holiday, you can check your chooks into a chicken hotel. The exception to this is if you are inside a “Protection zone”, but there are very few of these.
Can I run my chicken visiting service?
Yes. You are allowed to visit people’s houses to look after their chickens, even if it is inside a protection zone. Our Chicken hotel Visiting Managers follow strict guidance on biosecurity. To do this you should wash hands and disinfect all footwear, tools, and equipment coming onto, and away from, any premises that house poultry. For government approved disinfectants have a look here.
What about “Flock-down”?
When the government decides they need to put the country into “flock-down”, or AIPZ (Avian Influenza protection zone), then all commercial poultry AND back garden pets have to be kept undercover. This includes their runs as well as their housing. This is to stop them from coming into contact with wild birds (or their poo) which may carry the disease. So if birds are taken from one enclosure to another then this rule isn’t broken.
What are the Avian flu zones?
When a confirmed (or suspected) case of avian influenza occurs, a 3km “protection zone” and a 10km “surveillance zone” are put around the location. In these cases, only very limited movement of birds can occur and a special license has to be applied for. Fortunately, there are very few of these areas across the UK currently. Check if you are in a zone on the DEFRA interactive map.
How do I protect my own flock?
All flocks of poultry should be kept separate, even during non avian flu times. So ensure that your own flock is kept separate from any guests and runs should be at least a metre apart, more if possible. If you are moving runs around then clean the area thoroughly of poo, use a disinfectant spray if possible (not household spray). It has been scientifically shown that at near freezing temperatures (3oC or lower) Avian flu can live from 2 weeks to a couple of months on the ground, but as temperatures rise this is greatly reduced. Avian flu persists longest on metal, but will only last up to 1 day on the ground at room temperature, the presence of sunlight (UV rays) helps to kill it off even more thoroughly. View Research.
How should I dispose of chicken poo and bedding?
It is essential that great care is taken to move all chicken poop and soiled bedding to a separate area after cleaning the coop. Try not to drop any along the way. Avoid splashing around water, or with a pressure washer, that could wash contaminants into the area of a separate flock.
How do I clean between guests?
If you are running a chicken boarding service then you should thoroughly clean. Disinfecting the coop, waterers, feeders and the run mesh itself, and anything else that has come into contact with other chickens. Clean up all chicken poop from the ground the run has been on and use a disinfectant spray on the ground. Move to a fresh patch of ground for new guests.
Can I catch it?
It is extremely rare for Avian Flu to cross-species to affect humans as the virus is specific to birds. If you are following good hygiene standards of hand, equipment, and clothes washing then the risk is minimal. You could always use a mask when cleaning out coops as extra protection, we’re all used to that now I’m sure!