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Caring for poultry

Video discussing the main areas which need to be considered when caring for poultry.
Before taking on poultry in any capacity, commitment needs to be considered as keeping poultry obviously involves a level of daily responsibility on the part of the keeper. Next, appropriate housing needs to be considered taking into account the number of hens to be accommodated. Other factors would include whether to opt for a more natural hen house made from wood or plastic which is easier to keep clean and free from red mite. Security against predators should be a further consideration. Aside from ensuring both feed and water are fresh daily, it is up to the keeper how they feed.
We recommend to supporters of the British Hen Welfare Trust that a complete feed such as layers, crumble, or mash is provided in the morning, with a mixed corn in the afternoon. Routine cleaning of feeders and drinkers is essential, and supplements, such as apple cider vinegar, are not suitable for metal containers. In winter, of course, water can freeze. In summer, thirst will increase. So monitoring water during extreme weather is vital. Enrichment to enable natural behaviour to be expressed is easily provided through natural or homemade dust bath areas. Hens need to dust bathe as a means to clean their feathers. It’s a bit like us taking a good shower.
Whilst enrichment is important, so is avoiding the ground around the henhouse from becoming poached, a term used to describe ground where there is either soil erosion, lack of grass, and/or a build up of worm eggs. In times where avian flu may be present and domestic poultry are required to be locked down, boredom busters through feeding vegetables can be useful, although it is important to note that it is illegal to feed any household scraps from anything other than a vegan kitchen. Vegetables such as cabbages, lettuces, and corncobs, as you can see in this picture, bought specifically for poultry are permissible. A routine health plan for all poultry is essential.
Worming should be carried out four times a year, and owners should be encouraged to check for parasites routinely. Learning what is normal will enable clients to provide more accurate information on any health or behavioural issue. Biosecurity is essential. And simple steps should include keeping feed and water away from other birds, and a boot dip at high risk times is invaluable in keeping biosecurity high.

Now listen to Jane Howorth outlining the basic requirements for caring for poultry, including some legalities around feeding and biosecurity. Did you know it’s illegal to feed household scraps; are you now fully up to speed on how to give guidance on a balanced diet? Share your comments, we’d love to know what you think so far.

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Poultry Health

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