With the recent Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) being declared across the whole of England, bird keepers need to be more vigilant than ever in order to prevent the disease from spreading further.
What is the latest advice?
While poultry keepers are already being urged to prepare for winter Avian Flu and reduce the risk of disease in their birds over the colder months, recent testing has confirmed the case of avian influenza H5N8 in broiler breeder chickens in Herefordshire to be a highly pathogenic strain.
For the Government to come to this decision, a thorough risk assessment has been carried out containing the latest scientific and ornithological evidence and veterinary advice. Essentially it means any bird keeper in England (whether they have pet birds, commercial flocks or just a few birds in a backyard flock) is required by law to take a range of biosecurity precautions. You can check if you’re in a disease control zone via Defra’s interactive map.
Five Fast Facts about Avian Influenza
- While there are many strains of the virus, Avian Influenza has two types – one is mild while the other is fatal, causing death within 24 hours of the first appearance of symptoms.
- Domestic poultry (i.e. chickens and turkeys) are most vulnerable. Migratory waterfowl (i.e. ducks and geese) often carry the virus, but appear to have the most resistance to severe infection.
- The first deadly form was discovered in Italy in 1878. And a 1992 epidemic in Mexico wasn’t controlled for three whole years due to poor control measures being taken.
- It can survive for up to four days in water, and up to three months in bird droppings!
- Most significantly it can spread between farms really easily through all sorts of contaminated equipment such as feed, clothing, transport, shoes, rodents, cages etc.
What should you be doing?
There are many simple measures that poultry keepers can put into place irrespective of farm size. Here are the most important things to remember:
Clean footwear before and after visits
Be sure to clean any footwear with disinfectants before and after visits. Once you’ve washed your boots off, We think this FootCheck is ideal for disinfecting as it minimises wastage by ensuring a precise concentration is required. Essentially it means you can do away with buckets, containers and measuring jugs.
Use the correct PPE around birds
Infection in humans predominantly results from direct contact with infected poultry which is why it’s so important to wear the correct PPE. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) recommend: disposable or polycotton coveralls with head coverage of CE type 5 and 6 (disposable coveralls are preferred); disposable gloves of lightweight nitrile or vinyl, or heavy duty rubber (not latex) gloves that can be disinfected after use; rubber or polyurethane boots that are waterproof and can be cleaned or disinfected after use., or disposable shoe/boot covers are also recommended; face-fitted FFP3 respirator with exhalation valve and close fitting goggles.
Control rats and mice
It’s crucial to keep the bird’s homes clean and tidy, making sure extra measures are put in place to control rats and mice, with regular cleansing and disinfecting any hard surfaces. There are many types of disinfectants available but ideally you should use a DEFRA approved disinfectant at entrances and exits. If you’re looking for extra peace of mind, phenol-based disinfectants such as Hysolv Interkokask come recommended by the British Egg Industry Council (BEIC) for use in the elite “Lion Brand” egg production code.
It’s easy to place all attention on the sheds and our personal belongings, however one key area that’s often left open to risk is vehicles. As the Government says, to ensure good biosecurity, all poultry keepers should clean and disinfect vehicles and equipment that have come into contact with poultry. Products like this hand pump sprayer make the job much quicker and easier!
It’s important to place birds’ feed and water in fully enclosed areas that are protected from wild birds, and remove any spilled feed regularly. Also, it’s recommended to put fencing around any outdoor areas where birds are allowed to roam – paying particular attention to limiting access to ponds or areas visited by wild waterfowl. And on that note, avoid keeping ducks and geese with other poultry species!
What products are available?
Head over to the Avian Flu section of our website for a selection of top products recommended by farmers themselves, as well as experts from our established sister brands – Hydor, Bowden & Knights, Animal Aids and FarmTech Services.
As we enter the autumn and winter months, now is the time to start thinking about rodent baiting correctly for effective control. That’s because unfortunately this is the time that you’ll start to see rodents move into warmer environments, to get their claws on any food handouts. Let’s not allow them to take over your farm!
Like anything, there are right and wrong ways of going about things and so it’s really important to us that farmers are offered advice and products that can get the job done as professionally and responsibly as possible. Ultimately you want to minimise the exposure of wildlife and other non-target animals.
Here we have answered some of the key questions you may have on effective rodent baiting:
What are the risks?
Mice and rats pose a huge health risk due to being carriers of many diseases that can threaten you and your animals. But, unbeknown to many, it’s not the actual animal that carries the threat, it’s the lice, mites and fleas squatting on their fur and skin.
For those that are interested, here’s a few elaborate names of the diseases that could be contracted: Salmonellosis; colibacillosis, coryza, pasteurellosis, mycoplasmosis, hemorrhagic enteritis, hymenolepiasis, capilariasis and ascaridiasis.
Essentially, you want to steer clear of anything ending in ‘is’!
- Rats eat 50kg of feed per day
- Mice eat 2.5kg of feed per day
- For every 1kg of food eaten, 3kg could be contaminated
- 2 rats could become 200 in just 1 year
- 2 mice could become 60 in just 3 months
As you can see, rodents are hungry and ready to procreate which is why it requires a lot of knowledge and skill, as well as using the most professional products on the market. If left uncontrolled, the cost of letting these animals freeload on your premises for any amount of time could be catastrophic to your farm.
What can I do ahead of laying down any rodenticides?
- Check all of your entry points – doorways are a good place to start, as they need to be completely structurally sound with zero gaps. And where possible, close off any unnecessary entry points entirely or restrict human access.
- Make sure your materials and foodstuffs are stored correctly and move them regularly to throw them off the scent.
- Declutter and de-weed – an activity perhaps more suited to the spring months, but clear space will prevent settling and allow more visibility.
- Do a regular walk around site actively looking for tracks, damage, urine and droppings.
What baits are available?
There are various options in the form of: meals, cut or wholegrain; pellets; wax blocks; edible lards/gels/pastes; contact gels and foam; gases. It’s important that you identify the right products for the target species and situation.
Vertox Exec Blocks and PelGar Roban Cut Wheat Bait are some of the more popular forms of rodenticides as they contain a unique chocolatey aroma which ensures good bait “take”. Similarly, Bayer Rodilon Trio markets itself on extreme palatability. And when it comes to the bait stations themselves, this Lockable Rat Bait Station comes highly recommended due to its suitability to all environments as well as protecting the bait from contamination.
Do I need certification?
The simple answer is yes! Since 1 January 2018, farmers and growers have only been able to purchase professional rodenticides if they can show they are part of a compliant assurance scheme, or that they have completed an approved training course. Lantra is one example of where you can professionally and effectively learn to control rats on farms. Most importantly, you will need to upload your certificate to purchase any of the products mentioned above.
So, if you want to keep your animals and farm safe from pests this autumn, head over to the Pest Control section of our website. You’ll find a full suite of products that come recommended by farmers themselves suited to rodent baiting, as well as experts from our established sister brands – Hydor, Bowden & Knights, Animal Aids and FarmTech Services.