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Disinfection, biosecurity (including wild birds) and disease control

Disinfection, biosecurity (including wild birds) and disease control
© University of Nottingham and the British Hen Welfare Trust

Disease prevention measures, known as biosecurity, are designed to reduce the risk of infectious disease transmission.

This is particularly important in commercial poultry units where the introduction of disease spells potential massive financial loss to the producer.

In a pet hen environment good biosecurity is also important and at times of high risk, such as the wild bird migratory season, Avian Influenza should be at the forefront of everyone’s mind.

The virus is spread via direct bird to bird contact, droppings, and body fluids. It can easily be carried on footwear and equipment.

Here is some guidance from DEFRA and the UK government (with permission from Jenny Comish, APHA) as a whole during high-risk periods.

This is an additional video, hosted on YouTube.

Disinfection of domestic hen houses should be part of a hen owner’s routine and should follow thorough cleaning.

The hen house should first be emptied of all old bedding, and any removable perches and nest boxes cleaned outside the hen house. Dust and dander should be removed with a soft brush and the walls and any fixed furniture thoroughly cleaned using a double action degreasing and disinfecting agent such as Poultry Shield.

Once clean, the coop, perches and nest boxes should be treated with a DEFRA-approved biocidal product such as Virkon.

When new birds are introduced to a flock it is prudent to use a quarantine system whereby the new birds remain within their own house and run, a short distance away from existing hens.

Ideally this should be for two weeks to allow any symptoms of imported disease to manifest.

New owners should be looking out for birds that appear fluffed up or to be spending time hunched with head tucked under their wing, have diarrhoea, are ’snicking’ or sneezing, and/or showing a loss of appetite.

In times of high-risk a boot dip system is advisable when moving between two groups of hens. 

© University of Nottingham and the British Hen Welfare Trust
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