The Accidental Smallholder Forum

Livestock => Poultry & Waterfowl => Topic started by: PK on September 19, 2022, 08:00:44 pm

Title: Avian Flu 2022-23
Post by: PK on September 19, 2022, 08:00:44 pm
Three cases a stone's throw (from the 10k surveillance zones) from us in the last couple of days in West Suffolk, and other live cases elsewhere in the UK. I note that there are big concerns in the Netherlands (where they have actually had fewer cases compared to the UK) and their Minister of Agriculture has resigned over the issue. Poultry producers are up in arms with the proposal to ban commercial poultry units near open expanses of water. The Netherlands has large areas of open expanses of water. There is a concern about the ability of the virus to enter commercial units despite strict biosecurity measures. It seems it doesn't take much for this to happen. Given the regular prevalence of cases in the UK through the summer, and fact that the number of incidents is already on the rise during September, I wonder if there will be a change in policy and a lockdown avoided and relying instead on swift targeting of affected localities. Just a thought. We have actually beefed up our poultry arrangements in anticipation of a lockdown so that the winter will be more pleasant for the birds and for us.
Title: Re: Avian Flu 2022-23
Post by: Richmond on September 19, 2022, 08:30:02 pm
PK - We are currently in a blue prevention zone courtesy of an infected farm a mile over the fields from us.  I am awaiting a visit from the APHA vet but having been told a fortnight ago they would come have not heard anything yet. But was told when speaking to APHA office no need to put birds inside (phew) but just carry on and keep observing health and minimise contact with wild birds.

Just looking again at the reports about recent outbreaks it appears that only  "infected" birds are being culled which raises the hope that they won't blanket cull everything on the premises should they find a case.
Title: Re: Avian Flu 2022-23
Post by: Fleecewife on September 19, 2022, 10:06:57 pm
I think new cases have continued steadily throughout the summer.  The first wild geese started flying over us here in south central Scotland just a few days ago, returning to their winter grounds on the west coast.
I am wondering what is in the minds of the powers that be regarding lock down this winter.  It really does seem pointless unless there is evidence that isolating domestic birds has reduced the actual numbers of incidences of diseased flocks.  There have been reports of huge numbers of wild birds dying on reserves, so is AI now endemic, that is the question?
Does anyone have an inside view of the current thinking of how this winter will be handled?
Title: Re: Avian Flu 2022-23
Post by: Richmond on September 22, 2022, 12:01:55 pm
I had the APHA vet visit this morning. To partly answer your question FW I think chances are high we will all be in lockdown again this winter, if not before. I am supposed to be in lockdown now given we are in a blue protection zone but as I (probably rather stridently) pointed out, it is not practical nor humane to lock up a flock of waterfowl just in case a sparrow sh*ts on them!

Having swabbed each goose and duck now have to wait 3 days. If I don't hear by then all will be well, and if not they will be in touch. Chickens and turkeys were just observed at as symptoms are more obvious in those if they have it, and all mine appeared to be well. All waterfowl are swabbed as can be asymptomatic carriers.
Title: Re: Avian Flu 2022-23
Post by: Fleecewife on September 22, 2022, 06:05:47 pm
I totally agree with you @Richmond about waterfowl.  We have a small number of grazers, geese.....


A little birdie told me that the wild fowl charities are asking for a complete lockdown of domestic poultry to prevent spread to wildfowl.  I thought it went the other way and the wild birds were bringing it here from further north?  Do they mean all year round I wonder?
Oh well, we had better get our winter arrangements in place because I really don't want my hens in the polytunnel this winter - they destroyed every one of our winter brassicas last year and the lockdown went on for so long that I couldn't get my early crops started.
Title: Re: Avian Flu 2022-23
Post by: Richmond on September 22, 2022, 07:08:50 pm
I think we need to brace ourselves for an early lockdown - my guess is end of October onwards. Apparently the authorities are concerned that the virus will mutate and start to infect humans and until they find a solution we (the poultry keepers) need to minimise potential exposure both to the birds and ourselves. They are fearing a Covid type epidemic again.

I have to say the whole thing is totally disheartening. If we really must shut our birds in for most of the year (and we cant rule out the fact that it might become permanent) then what is the point of keeping poultry at all?  I refuse to keep birds under those conditions. My geese have been so excited over the new grass that's sprouted since we had a bit of rain, having had 2 whole months without, and now I am being told to lock them in the stable. It's heartbreaking.
Title: Re: Avian Flu 2022-23
Post by: Fleecewife on September 22, 2022, 10:15:17 pm
All poultry keepers should have their 'flu vaccinations.  I get one routinely for being old and decrepit but we should all have one to reduce the risk of mutations happening from human to birds.  Shouldn't we also be vaccinating birds against avian influenza to prevent zoonotic mutations?
Title: Re: Avian Flu 2022-23
Post by: ZacB on September 23, 2022, 06:44:39 am
I really donít see how this will end unless itís just accepted that itís endemic and adopt a Covid stance - itís here get on  with itÖÖÖÖ
Some things are just beyond a joke though. Two and a half tonnes of grain going into a wildfowl nature reserve in East Anglia to feed/attract the wildfowl and then having to lock your own back yard flock up - doesnít sit well with me.
Title: Re: Avian Flu 2022-23
Post by: PK on September 27, 2022, 07:57:46 pm
The latest here is all of Norfolk, Suffolk and a large part of Essex is now designated a Prevention Zone area as of 12 noon today. A range of restrictions just falling short of a requirement to house poultry and captive birds. It looks like also included is a requirement to keep a record of any egg sales and to whom.
Title: Re: Avian Flu 2022-23
Post by: Richmond on September 28, 2022, 08:16:36 am
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-norfolk-63048231

I expect this is it for the winter now. Lockdown through to next May.  I am going to start culling birds as I cannot physically keep them all in or under cover. I expect ultimately I may only keep tiny bantams which can be kept fairly easily in covered pens. But it's no life for them. Like being told to stay in a one bedroom flat for the rest of your life.

I have a second inspection looming next week. Despite being clear from the last inspection they want to come back again.  :(

Title: Re: Avian Flu 2022-23
Post by: Anke on September 28, 2022, 09:21:27 am
Surely they only know about people who have registered with APHA/DEFRA as they have more than 50 birds.... can't see them combing the countryside (and cities) to check every house for poultry... and keeping records of who you sell eggs to... what next???? Movement licences for poultry? Ear tagging with EID...


The stupidest bit is though that all poultry was banned from agri shows this summer... except pigeons! Now go figure that!!!
Title: Re: Avian Flu 2022-23
Post by: Richmond on September 28, 2022, 10:19:39 am
APHA only have a record of registered keepers but the local councils have apparently been tasked with checking to see how many people are keeping smaller numbers of poultry in their gardens via door to door visits.
Title: Re: Avian Flu 2022-23
Post by: Fleecewife on September 28, 2022, 01:28:50 pm
We have never kept 50 birds but we get the APHA AI updates therefore they know we keep poultry. That comes with the annual livestock survey returns we do.


It seems there are a lot of people on allotments who keep a few hens but know nothing of the poultry rules. Perhaps they need to do an allotment site recce too.....


Now is the season for the arrival of migratory waterfowl so I expect the lockdown will be nationwide soon enough.































Title: Re: Avian Flu 2022-23
Post by: Anke on September 28, 2022, 01:46:21 pm
APHA only have a record of registered keepers but the local councils have apparently been tasked with checking to see how many people are keeping smaller numbers of poultry in their gardens via door to door visits.


Oh yeah.... when the local council is trying to work out how to heat the schools, how to reduce essential council services like education, waste collection etc to the barest minimum (incl staff numbers) they have the resources to send people house to house and ask if thwey keep a few hens.... REALLY?


I don't mean to be flippant to you Richmond, but that is almost funny...

Title: Re: Avian Flu 2022-23
Post by: doganjo on September 28, 2022, 03:14:35 pm
Everybody round here knows I have a few hens so the council will probably already know. Because I only have four it's easy to pen mine undercover - they sometimes are anyway if the weather is really bad, or just now when they have no feathers.  Damn things (Wyandottes) are a waste of time - posh birds that only lay when they feel like it  :innocent:  But my daughter says " oh but they're pretty, Mum"  :excited: :eyelashes: :roflanim:

Wish I'd got rescues, but I was given these as a moving in gift when I gave away all my previous ducks and rehomed hens to who I thought was a friend.  From what I've heard they were probably all eaten  :'( >:( >:( >:( >:( >:( >:(
Title: Re: Avian Flu 2022-23
Post by: Richmond on October 02, 2022, 07:50:00 am
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-norfolk-63059558

Title: Re: Avian Flu 2022-23
Post by: Fleecewife on October 03, 2022, 01:05:19 am
I noticed there is a concentration in Attleborough. A couple of years ago I saw the poultry processing factory there that my Dad owned in the '60s featured as a centre of infection.  Hmm. I used to get up at 0415 to help load turkeys to arrive at Attleborough for 0700, before getting the bus to school. Being Norfolk, there were many farmers' daughters at my school so perhaps no one noticed the deep litter whiff  :innocent:


I agree that we should be vaccinating all poultry and birds in zoos and wildfowl centres as lockdowns have simply not worked.  Now for DEFRA to accept that.
Title: Re: Avian Flu 2022-23
Post by: Anke on October 03, 2022, 01:47:53 pm

I agree that we should be vaccinating all poultry and birds in zoos and wildfowl centres as lockdowns have simply not worked.  Now for DEFRA to accept that.


Until the efficacy of the vaccine has been proven and more importantly that vaccinated birds cannot infect non-vaccinated ones it seems non-viable. And given the (monetary) value of a hen/turkey is really quite low (and egg/broiler/turkey producers' margins concequently too) it won't happen soon because the economics don't stack up.


DEFRA hasn't even accepted the currently available bTB vaccine, because you cannot tell vaccinated animals from infected ones, so what chance has a chicken/broiler that sells for 2 quid after 7 weeks of life in a massive shed...


Also I firmly believe we shouldn't be interfering with the natural world by vaccinating wild birds either - it will just have to run it's course. As sad as seeing loads of dead birds around, this is nature's way of re-calibrating equilibria, the virus will over time weaken and birds will become immune to it. And we as humans should not decide to interfere in everything just because we want to eat far too many eggs and chicken meat.


But that's just me...
Title: Re: Avian Flu 2022-23
Post by: Christian on October 03, 2022, 03:52:51 pm
All poultry keepers should have their 'flu vaccinations.  I get one routinely for being old and decrepit but we should all have one to reduce the risk of mutations happening from human to birds.  Shouldn't we also be vaccinating birds against avian influenza to prevent zoonotic mutations?

Hi Fleecewife, always a good idea to get the flu vaccine, old and decrepit or not  :raining:. However - it's not going to help against any nasty bird flu mutation - the curent bird flu strain and the (human) vaccine strain are too different. There is a good news, though - even after mutation, the bird flu strain is very unlikely to cause any human health problem. As for the birds, though.....   :gloomy:
Title: Re: Avian Flu 2022-23
Post by: Richmond on October 03, 2022, 04:53:16 pm
All poultry keepers should have their 'flu vaccinations.  I get one routinely for being old and decrepit but we should all have one to reduce the risk of mutations happening from human to birds.  Shouldn't we also be vaccinating birds against avian influenza to prevent zoonotic mutations?

Hi Fleecewife, always a good idea to get the flu vaccine, old and decrepit or not  :raining:. However - it's not going to help against any nasty bird flu mutation - the curent bird flu strain and the (human) vaccine strain are too different. There is a good news, though - even after mutation, the bird flu strain is very unlikely to cause any human health problem. As for the birds, though.....   :gloomy:

That's not what the vet implied when he inspected our birds. He told me the authorities were very concerned about it mutating into a form that would affect humans similarly to Covid. They were also concerned about it affecting pigs. He told me we shouldn't be eating our eggs or chicken just in case any were infected as we were putting our health at risk! Needless to say I haven't been following that advice - what a waste of good eggs!
Title: Re: Avian Flu 2022-23
Post by: Christian on October 03, 2022, 05:41:38 pm
Hi all,

Richmond, that is very interesting and it probably is right to be cautious. However, I don't think that this is the offical line:
Quote
The vast majority of human cases [which are very few!] have reported contact with poultry and there is no reported evidence of sustained human-to-human transmission. No major changes have been detected in recently characterised viruses from human cases.
(see https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/risk-assessment-of-avian-influenza-ah5n1/risk-assessment-of-avian-influenza-ah5n1-third-update)/.

Good old NHS also states that:
Quote
You can't catch bird flu through eating fully cooked poultry or eggs, even in areas with an outbreak of bird flu
(https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/bird-flu/)

Enjoy your (boiled) eggs, don't breath when collecting....