In order to prepare for housing measures, producers are encouraged to prepare, in order to maintain animal health and welfare. There is some guidance below, together with information on how our team has been, and will continue to work, to safeguard your flock and those of others. We will of course continue to update you however if you have any queries, or would like further advice as you prepare, please do not hesitate to contact your local vet or our main number on 069 61033. During this time when you call our office team, you will be asked more in-depth questions than you would outside of an AI outbreak to check if there are any clinical signs that suggest AI in your flock. If there are, you will be put through to a vet immediately.
Housing Measures: How to prepare
The following can help your flock to prepare:
Pop holes: Begin to vary the times the pop holes are open – this will give you an idea of how the birds will react and what you might need to do to mitigate against the effects
Ventilation: Ensuring good levels of ventilation is key to prevent poor litter quality. For automatically ventilated houses, contact your supplier for advice if required.
Litter: As the birds start to spend more time indoors, badly capped litter should be removed
Managing flock stress
Housing can induce stress which may lead to behavioural changes and aggression. Managing flocks efficiently and effectively will always need fine-tuning of the environment and inputs however changes should be introduced gradually. Flocks should be monitored carefully to ensure that the effects are beneficial rather than detrimental.
Feather pecking, resulting in injury, can start. Early identification and action are vital to protecting and maintaining welfare and flock productivity, as it can be challenging to control once this behaviour has been established. Reducing the lux levels of lighting (within legal levels) can help to calm the birds and prevent bullying
Enrichment: Enrichment should always be in place – especially destructible products such as alfalfa bales and pecking blocks. Grit given at 7g/bird/week sprinkled on the scratch area may also help keep the birds occupied and helps keep litter friable as they scratch about to find the particles.
Enrichment usage: Birds will use the enrichment more when it’s first introduced, and less over time
Be consistent: Don’t remove enrichment once it’s been introduced. Once birds are used to a certain type of enrichment, they can become stressed if it’s removed – make sure you have enough stock for the duration of the housing order
Parasite control: Monitor red mite levels as they are likely to increase due to the rise in temperature of the house
Smothering: Monitor the birds often, especially around the times when the pop holes would usually open. Crowds of birds should be broken up by walking the scratch area. Placing ramps or other objects to stop birds crowding, can also help. Electric fences should only be used as a last resort and after discussion with your vet who will then need to write a letter to allow for a derogation for use, depending on the age of the flock
Vaccinations: Being indoors increases infection pressure for diseases such as Infectious Bronchitis (IB). During a housing order, vaccinations should continue to be given, in vaccinated flocks, in the usual way
Worm testing: Is important as birds can still succumb to infestations
We stock a variety of products that can support flock health including:
Multivitamins: Can support eggshell quality, if the birds are displaying signs of stress