NEWS
VIEW OUR MONTHLY DIARY TIPS ON THE PUBLICATIONS PAGE

For seasonal advice in the run, in the garden and in the kitchen. And look for help in protecting your flock in the 'protect' section.

MEMBERS NO LONGER NEED TO USE THEIR MEMBERSHIP NUMBERS TO LOG IN AND NEW MEMBERS DON'T NEED TO SUBSCRIBE

ADVICE TO NEWCOMERS
If you are new to keeping poultry and would like help in chosing your birds, the Henkeepers' Association offers advice for beginners in the Protect section, or email us on info@henkeepersassociation.co.uk. We're happy to help.

THE HENKEEPERS' ASSOCIATION IS ON THE MOVE
The Kitchen Garden, host to the Henkeepers' Association is on the move from Suffolk to Whitstable in Kent. No change to members though, we're still available to help via email on info@henkeeprsassociation.co.uk. Email us with info, news and your imput.

FOLLOW ME
on Twitter and Instagram @FrancineHens

UK ANIMALS NO LONGER CONSIDERED SENTIENT
A recent vote in parliament, narrowly won by the government removes EU status of animals being sentient. This is a blow to the welfare of wildlife, pets and livestock.

There is a petition currently on 38degrees.co.uk.

BIRD FLU PRECAUTIONS FOR 2017
Although Defra have said they will not routinely impose restrictions on poultry keepers this winter, we're advised to stay vigilant and prepared for this eventuality, because now is the time migrating birds arrive.

The main source of the disease is your flocks' food or drink becoming infected by wild birds' droppings. Covering your run with polycarbonate or rigid plastic panels is ideal, but if your run's supports aren't strong enough, bird proof fruit netting from www.harrodshorticultural.co.uk will keep them out.

Feeders and drinkers need to be kept undercover. A old table makes a good cover and your flock can be easily fed underneath.

If your run is small, now would be a good time to enlarge it. A covered extra grassy area for occasional access is a boon for hens used to foraging in your garden.

A dust bath and large branches for your hens to perch on will all help to make life undercover a little less traumatic.

Fingers crossed these precautions will be unnecessary. For further advice, see our posts below or visit the Defra website.

BRITISH ANIMALS NO LONGER RECOGNISED AS SENTIENT BEINGS
Compassion in World Farming warns us that with the repeal of current European Law acknowledging animals' ability to feel pain when we leave the EU, we cannot be sure that future governments will still pay full regard to their welfare. Please go to their website and demand the clause be brought into UK law.

H5N8 IN LANCAShIRE BACKYARD FLOCK 4/5/17
Avian flu has been detected in a small flock near Thornton Wyre Lancashire. Protection and Surveillance zones are in place. See www.gov.uk/guidance/avian-influenza-bird-flu for help in protecting your flock.

NEW BIRD COOPS
Interesting new henhouse design from www.newbirdcoops.co.uk that allows owners to introduce newcomers to their flock without the usual introduction difficulties. A well thought out design that will be useful for those who regularly buy in new birds.

ALL POULTRY ALLOWED OUT TODAY 13/4/17
All poultry is allowed out from today, even those in high risk zones. Normal bio-secirty rules apply.

27/2/17 BIRD FLU UPDATE
Around 80% of free range birds can be let out at the end of February. The remaining 20% are in 'Higher Risk Areas' and restrictions are likely to stay in place until the end of April, but will be kept under review.

To find out if you are in these areas go to gisdiseasemap.defra.gov.uk. These seem to be mostly coastal areas. The Chief Veterinary Officer Nigel Gibbens says "In some areas the risk of infection from wild birds is too high. That's why we are requiring birds in higher risk areas to be housed or protected from wild bird contact by netting".

If you are within these restricted areas, from March your birds can no longer be classified as free range if you're selling meat or eggs.

14/2/17 DEFRA UPDATE ON EXTENSIONS TO POUTRY RESTRICTIONS
Go to gisdiseasemap.defra.gov.uk and put in your postcode to discover which of their three areas you fall into:
A Protection Zone
B Surveillance Zone
C Proposed Higher Risk Zones

A final decision will be made on Feb 28th 2017. To find out what these might entail see www.defra.gov.uk.

DEFRA EXTENDS POULTRY LOCK-IN 6/1/17
After the discovery of H5N8 in a backyard flock in Carmarthenshire, Defra has decreed all free range birds should be kept undercover until the end of February.

We should follow previous instructions to keep our birds away from wild birds and follow disease precautions.

To report infected wild birds, contact Defra on 03459 335577 and to keep up-to-date with Defra's news, see their website www.defra.gov.uk.

KEEPING YOUR HENS HAPPY IN THEIR RUN
Birds that are usually allowed to free range are not happy when kept in their runs.

Make sure you keep them amused with veg and greenery to forage. Tie it in bunches and hang it just above head height, otherwise the leaves will get trampled under foot.

A straw bale or two will provide shelter and offer limited interest. Fat balls and other wild bird food sources make a change.

Make sure the run is cleaned regularly. Hardwood chipping are the best run cover and can be hosed down and raked clean.

Adding thick branches and tree trunks will give your flock more space off the ground.

Hens that usually get their grit from your garden will need to be supplied with grit from the feed merchant.

Make sure your flock has access to a dust bath during this period.

Hopefully, the 30 day undercover period will soon be over.

OUTBREAK OF H5N8 CONFIRMED 17/12/16
5000 turkeys at a farm in Louth Lincolnshire have been diagnosed with H5N8 which is not a risk to humans.

A 3km protection zone and a 10k surveillance zone have been set up.

KEEP POUTRY IN THEIR RUNS7/12/16
Defra has asked poultry keepers to keep their birds inside bird proof runs and make sure all feeders and drinkers are kept undercover away from wild birds for the next 30 days.

HOW TO PROTECT YOUR BIRDS
*Make sure your birds stay in their run.
*Cover the roof with bird netting
www.harrodhorticultural.com do a light easy netting in different sizes that will cover the run.
*Cover the feed and water station with sheet of ply to prevent bird droppings going into food and water.
*Make sure your birds have adequate greenery - hang bunches of spinach, veg garden clippings etc.

TODAY IS THE START OF WORLD ANTIBIOTIC AWARENESS WEEK
End the routine use of antibiotics in farm animals. Take action now and visit the Compassion in World Farming's website: www.ciwf.org.uk/act-on-antibiotics and email the Minister for Health.

FOLLOW LUCY GAVAGHAN's PROGRESS ON HER FACE BOOK PAGE.
Read the industry's response to consumer demand on www.poultryhealthtoday.com, listing the disease and welfare disadvantages to cage-free systems.

UNIVERSITY OF LEIPZIG'S PROGRESS IN DETERMINING CHICKENS' SEX IN EGG.
The prototypes of this device will be ready by the end of this year, and in production in Germany by the end of 2017. This will determine the sex three days after incubation and automatically remove those eggs from hatcheries for use in industry and there would be no need to kill male chicks after hatching.

TESCO TO END SALES OF CAGED HENS' EGGS
Victory for Lucy Gavaghan's petition on change.org to ban the sale of eggs from caged and barn kept hens from 2025. Brilliant work Lucy. She's working on Morrisons and Asda next. Members know the best way to help is to sign her petitions and buy eggs from supermarkets that already only stock higher welfare eggs.

END THE CAGING OF QUAILS
Compassion on World Farming is starting a campaign to end quail caging. They have less space than a beer mat to Ilve in. www.cwf.org.uk.

BIRD BRAINED?
Reported in the today's 14/6 Guardian researchers have discovered that some birds, especially parrots and corvids have as many or more neutrons in their brains as mammals - even primates.

On-going research will be looking into the brainpower of other birds including chickens.

JOIN US AT THE HENS & GARDENS EVENT AT GREAT COMP
Join breeders and speakers at Great Comp Garden near Sevenoaks in Kent for their open day off Sunday June 19th. For further info see www.greatcompgardens.co.uk.

SUPPORT THE BAN ON FORCE FEEDING DUCKS FOR FOIE GRAS IN FRANCE
Join Compassion in World Farming to protect ducks in France. Sign their petition on www.cwf.org.uk.

BATTERY RESCUE HENS
The Cornish team of BHWT have rescued 500 hens and need homes. Any ideas , call 01884 860 084

INSECTS IN CHiCKEN FEED
BBC Countryfile reported on research into replacing the soya content in animal feed with insects. At the moment, 2/3 of soya for feed is imported from South America. Climate stops us from growing our own. This makes farmers vulnerable to supply and price fluctuations.

In a move for Europe to become self-sufficient, trials in Belgium have been taking place, using dried maggots - the larva of house flies that are milled to powder then added to meal, grain, vitamins and minerals.

Checks are taking place to monitor health and growth, and public opinion is being monitored, currently with about a 75% approval rate.

There are concerns about toxins in insect coming from the environment, and it is currently illegal to feed insects to animals. Obviously birds feed on insects naturally as part of their diet.

The BBC is interested in our opinions. Email or tweet to @BBCcountryfile.

INSECTS IN CHICKEN FEED
We import 35 million tonnes of soya for animal feed from South America, causing problems with de-forestation. Watch BBC1 Countryfile tomorrow 29/11 at 6.20 and find out about plans to use ground maggots mixed with grain as protein content in hen feed.

THE CUBALAYA _CUBA'S NATIONAL BREED
On Radio 4 today 11/10 & on-line searching for Cuba's own chicken breed and the history of the chicken on the Food Programme.

IT"S WORLD EGG DAY
Raise a glass to the most versatile ingredient in your larder!

EGG SHELLS
According to Farmers Weekly, a firm making ready-to-eat hard boiled eggs - really, has invested in machinery that turns egg shells into purified calcium carbonate used widely in fertilisers, saving themselves thousands of pounds in landfill fees.

Make use of your own eggshells by crumbling them and adding to your compost heap to add calcium or sprinkle around the base of tomato, pepper or aubergine plants as fertiliser and to ward off blossom end rot, or to deter slugs and snails.

Bake for ten minutes in a 120C oven, grind and mix with mixed corn for your hens or wild birds.

HEN PARTY AT BENENDEN IN KENT
Poultry Fair on Saturday 16th May, with birds, books, hatching eggs and other goodies for sale. For further details email binsssmh@gmail.com.

RED MITE PREDATOR MITE
www.chickenvet.co.uk is selling traps to check if your house has red mite. If it has then they are also selling a predator mite that will eliminate the problem.

Obviously you have to discontinue insecticidal treatments and remove traps before installing them. Has anyone tried this?

FRANCINE RAYMOND ON BBC RADIO SUFFOLK
The Henkeepers' Association's Francine Raymond will be on Mark Murphy's Breakfast Show March 3rd discussing the art of chicken sexing.

SCRAMBLED EGGS!
Latest advice on cooking scrambled eggs is to not add milk or cream. This can cause dryness and change the texture of your breakfast.

CASE OF H7N8 IN HAMPSHIRE
Case of bird flu has been confirmed in a poultry farm at Upham in Hants. There is no link with the case at a duck farm in Yorkshire in November.

An investigation has been started, the birds have been culled, and there is a 1km poultry movement restriction in place.

Three people are being tested.

ARTICLE ON KEEPING HENS IN GARDENS ILLUSTRATED MAGAZINE
If you're a serious gardener but still want to keep poultry and give them free range, read Francine Raymond's article in GI magazine.

THE SMARTEST & PRICIEST HEN HOUSES
Chosen by Gardens Illustrated Magazine
*The Chalet from hennypenny.co.uk
*Colonial Style Barn from thehappyhenhouse.com
*Walk-in chicken coop from frame bow.co.uk
*The Highgrove Hen House from highgroveshop.com
*The Chicken Pod from shropshireanimalarks.co.uk
*Maggie's Dozen Henhouse by flytesofancy.co.uk
*Palladian henhouse by birdpavillions.com
*Hen Arch Coop by framebow.co.uk

HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF FROM CAMPYLOBACTER
News today that 70% of chicken carcasses for sale in supermarkets are tainted with campylobacter bacteria that can cause food poisoning.

All the supermarkets showed cases with Asda the worse affected and Tesco the least.

Advice from www.food.gov.uk suggests the following measures to protect yourself:
*Don't pack chicken next to other cooked or raw meat or fish when you shop.
*Cover and chill raw chicken
*Don't wash raw chicken
*Wash any utensils and surfaces used during preparation
*Wash your hands
*Cook the meat thoroughly checking there is no pink meat and that all juices run clear.

DISEASE RESTRICTIONS LIFTED ON DUCK FARM

CASE OF BIRD FLU IN NORTH YORKSHIRE
A case of bird flu has been found in a flock of 6000 ducks in the Driffield area of N. Yorks. Defra says it is not H5N1, but the exact strain has not yet been reported.

A 10km exclusion zone has been set up around the village of Nafferton and the birds at the farm are being culled, and the movement of poultry and poultry waste within this area is banned. This is the first case in the UK since 2008.

Defra reports the risk to humans or the food chain is low.

We will report as more news comes in.

18/11
John Oxford, emertus professor of virology at University of London says that there have been recent outbreaks of H5 in Germany, Holland and now in UK. "In no case, in none of these countries has there been any serious human infection."

The 6000 ducks at Nafferton continue to be culled.

18/11
The strain of bird flu found in the flock of ducks at Nafferton has been confirmed to be H5N8 which is considered to not be dangerous to humans.

CASE OF H5N8 REPORTED IN NETHERLANDS 16/11/14

TV COMPANY LOOKING FOR FAMILIES
Betty, a TV production company is looking for families who would like to live more self-sufficient lifestyles - for a programme they're developing.

Do you live in town and long to reconnect with the food on your family's plate? Are you in the process of converting tour outdoor space into a garden farm to sustain a veg patch, chicken coop or even a cow?

Are you trying to press apples, brew beer or preserve fruit and veg from home? If so, then email meg.barnard@betty.co.uk

VETS WITH POULTRY EXPERTS
Send us details of any vets you can recommend with experience and training as Chicken Vets.

Toachim House Veterinary Surgery in Faversham Kent have a Chicken Vet, see www.thvs.co.uk.

FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER
Catch up with me @FrancineHens

ANTIBIOTICS IN FARM ANIMALS
Professor David Heymann on Today Programme on Radio 4 said that half of all antibiotics used in the UK are given to livestock - often on a preventative basis, leading to evolution of resistance. see www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04max12.
Both the Soil Association and Compassion in Farming are running campaigns to stop unnecessary use of antibiotics.

NEW BOOK
Chickens as Pets is new from Andrew Hinkinson. Nicely set out with plenty of sound advice for those who want to give their birds happy healthy lives. From Spellbinding Media.

SUBSCRIPTION OFFER FROM YOUR CHICKENS MAGAZINE
A special offer to all Henkeepers' Association members from Your Chickens Magazine. Try 3 issues for just ?3.

Your Chickens is a monthly magazine for the back garden chicken keeper. Full of tips, advice and real life stories of people who have joined the poultry keeping boom.

To try 3 issues today visit www.subscriptionsave.co.uk or call 0844 848 8056 quoting the code VYCHKA14.
This offer ends 30/12/14.

DIATOMACEOUS EARTH
Or DE is the fossilised remains of plants, ground into a powder that controls parasite infestations, causing them to de-hydrate and die. It has proved successful with red mite, fleas and lice. Available from www.wigglywigglers.co.uk.

BOKASHI-BASED FEEDS
www.wigglywigglers also sells a range of bokashi active gran based mash and pellets for growers and layers.

A NEW BOOK FROM THE KITCHEN GARDEN
Francine Raymond has written a book charting her move from Suffolk to the seaside. She describes converting a bungalow, planting an orchard, and starting again with chickens from scratch.

With over 400 colour photos by Victoria Spofforth and packed with seasonal recipes, Flying the Coop offers hope to other downsizes and is available from www.kitchen-garden-hens.co.uk or your local bookshop

BEWARE FOXES!
Foxcubs are born between February and April. Watch out for hungry foxes. They can be more daring than usual during this period and will often come into gardens during the day.

Make sure your run is safe, and clear away any bird food, hen feed, or composted food which may attract them.

BEST COVERING FOR A WET RUN
www.flytesofancy.co.uk sell packs of hardwood chip pings to lay on the floor of the chicken run. It is hardwearing, hygienic and easy to clean with a hose.

THE CO-OP RENEGS ON ITS COMMITMENT
The Co-operative - formerly a Superhero of ethical supermarkets - is reneging on its commitment to higher welfare conditions for chickens.

Compassion in World Farming has stripped them of their Good Chicken Award.

Call on them to change their minds by contacting www.ciwf.org/coopchicken.

COLD WEATHER HENS
Best to organise the winter run before the weather changes for the worst.
*Make sure your access is safe with roll up paths and non-slip surfaces.
*Insulate the house with layers of newsprint under the bedding.
*Block the path of the wind with straw bales.
*Make sure there is shelter if snow is expected with straw bales and an old door.
*Keep water in an old plastic bowl that's easy to knock out if the contents are iced. Top up if the weather is really icy.

MRSI IN POLTRY
The first case has been found in turkeys and chicken on a farm in East Anglia. The risk to the general public is considered to be very low, at worst producing a skin infection . Poultry workers could be at risk from dust in animal housing.

H7N9 UPDATE
The World Health Organization reports that this year the disease has been reported humans in China with 137 cases and 45 fatalities. The risk of spread from person to person is still low.

HUMANE FOX DETERRENTS
It is an offence to poison foxes or shoot them without a licence, and shooting them is pointless because the vacant territory will be adopted by another fox. Various websites www.foxproject.org.uk and www.jbryant.co.uk that rely on Scoot type scent deterrents and Scarecrow - a water jet hosepipe will help deter foxes from making your garden home.

An urban fox territory runs to 40 acres about 500 gardens and there are about 30.000 urban foxes in this country.

NEARLY 10,000 MEMBERS!
The Henkeepers' Association has 9916 members. We are all looking forward to welcoming our 10,000 member......

NORTHERN MITE ALERT
These nasty little parasites are the same size as red mite, but they live on the bird, and not in the house. Look closely around the main tail feathers for dirty dusty patches. Hosts will be depressed and pale combed. Treatment is Ivomec, contact your vet, because this problem can cause severe anaemia and death.

SPECIAL OFFER FOR MEMBERS OF THE HENKEEPERS' ASSOCIATION
Suscribe to Your Chickens Magazine and get 6 issues for ?6.00.

Your Chickens is a useful magazine for back garden henkeepers: full of tips, advice and real life stories of real people who keep hens. It is available on subscription and HA members can make savings if using direct debit. After the first 6 issues your subscription will continue at ?12 for 6 months. Visit www.subscriptionsave.co.uk/hka or call 0844 848 8056 and quote UYCHHKA13.

HOT WEATHER HENS
Apart from the odd sunbathe, poultry doesn't really do well in hot weather. Make sure you take precautions or they may get sunstroke.
*Supply shade in the run. Rolls of bamboo fencing are available from garden shelters, or use an old table cloth or sheet, pegged.
*Make sure water is changed at least once a day
*Leave a door open to create a draught in the henhouse. Insert a wire netted panel if security is an issue.
*Make sure dust baths are kept topped up with plenty of dry soil, sandpit sand or bonfire ashes.
*Waterfowl are especially vulnerable, so keep their water supply topped up.

THIEVES ABOUT
Reports of poultry thefts in Faversham and Cambridge. Keep your eyes skinned.

H7N9 UPDATE
Reports from China that the human infection toll is up to 126 and the death toll is 20.

H7N9 VIRUS IN CHINA
The BBC reports two fresh cases of infection in Shanghai, bringing the latest outbreak up to 18 identified cases. Live bird markets have been closed. after tens of thousands of birds have been culled after discovery of traces of the virus.

The WHO state that there is no evidence 0f human-to-human transmission of the virus, but that 500 close contacts of the infected were bing monitored. The H7N9 strain is a form of avian flu not previously found in humans. It is distinct from the H5N1 bird flu virus that has caused 360 deaths worldwide since 2003.

NEW VACCINE
British scientists have developed a synthetic animal vaccine which is easier to store and distribute than live vaccine. The prototype is for foot-and-mouth disease and is more stable than the live equivalent, which could revert to an infectious form. The Henkeepers' Association is watching its development with interest.

EASTER EGGS LIVE
Follow the fortunes of various birds and reptiles hatching live on Channel 4 every day at 7.55pm and online at www.eggs.channel4.com.

GIANT EGG AUCTIONED
The largest egg - 120 times the size of a hen's egg - laid by the extinct Madagascan Elephant bird, and discovered by archaeologists has been auctioned.

TESCO POISED TO JUST SELL BRITISH CHICKEN
Reacting to customers' wishes to eat locally reared meat, Tesco have promised to stock British reared chicken only.

HENOPAUSE CURED!
Bizarre tale from BBC Radio Manchester's Andy Crane Show: five and a half year old hen - Dusty, an ex batt from BHWT started to lay soft shelled eggs, despite a hormone implant. She was then given a 'chckerectomy' by a vet, where her 'egg tube' was removed. She is now back to being top hen in a flock of eight, and being her owners 'feathered baby'.

What can we say!

BRINSEA INCUBATORS OFFER ANTIMICROBIAL PROTECTION
Egg incubators create ideal conditions for growth of bacteria that can be harmful to incubating eggs. To reduce this risk, Brinsea have incorporated additives into their incubator cabinets during manufacture to provide the optimum environment for hatching. For more information visit www.brinsea.co.uk.

POULTRY CONGRESS IN TURKEY
For further information about the International Congress on Advancements in Poultry Production in the Middle East and Africa to be held in Antalya in Turkey from 21-25 October, please visit www.pamcongress2013.org.

TIDY HENRUNS IN SPITE OF THE WEATHER
The run in winter is not a lovely place. Keep your flock well by adopting some of these tips
*If your run is muddy, try a thick layer of chipped bark or wood chippings.
*Strategically placed paving slabs can smooth your route to the feed bin.
*Roll-up paths see garden catalogues are useful for larger runs.
*Hoover your house, use an anti-parasite powder, then cover with a thick wodge of newspaper. Remove the top layer every morning, tear up and put on the compost heap.
*Line the nestobxes with a layer of dried moss, ready for the start of the laying season in February. Pop in a china egg to encourage first time layers.
*Top up dustbaths with wood ash and sandpit sand. Keep dry, under the house.

THEFT ALERT!
Member and journalist Hazel Southam is keen to hear from other members who have had eggs or birds stolen. Contact her on hazel@hazelsoutham.co.uk with your experiences, solutions and cautionary tales.

NEW EBOOK
If you are looking for a beginners book or embarking on a career in poultry production, this is the book for you. Find out more on www.acsebooks.co.uk.

NEW VETERINARY RESEARCH
Research from the Royal Veterinary College reports that garden poultry generally live in better conditions, but that we risk spreading disease by our lack of knowledge.

In the report published in British Poultry Science, research carried out in Greater London, revealed we have insufficient awareness of laws that could lead to the spread of disease.

Apparently we do not realise that feeding kitchen waste to our flocks is not permitted they specifically point out that feeding chickens with chicken meat and eggs carries the danger of Newcastle disease, that we have limited awareness to serious zoonotic disease and that we rarely vaccinate.

We have limited awareness of diseases like Mareks, infectious Laryngotracheitis and bronchitis, and that we should be aware that the presence of chickens could be a risk factor in diarrhoea in children.

The report concludes that there is a communication gap between us and the authorities, and that we should realise our pets are a farmed species.

The Henkeepers' Association is always ready to pass on relevant information from Defra to our members.

To read the whole report: http//rvc.ac.uk/Research/News/Backyard-chicken-keeping.cfm

DUCKS!
Food writer Bee Wilson reminds us in the Sunday Telegraph that conditions that ducks raised for food commercially are kept in, leave a lot to be desired.

The RSPCA campaigns for the 15 million farmed ducks to be allowed access to water to bathe. They tell us to make sure any products purchased should have their Freedom Food Label.

MOULTING HENS
All birds moult their feathers and leg scales annually, though exactly when depends on the age of the birds, the weather - and according to old wive's tales - how well they lay.

Usually, the moult takes place in early autumn. You may open the door to your henhouse and find it full of feathers, with it's occupants looking oven ready, or the hens may moult gradually over several days.

Your hens will go off lay and generally seem under the weather. Supplement their food with extra protein or a tonic, and make sure there's plenty of shade, and that there are dustbaths available.

The feathers will grow back gradually, first hollow tubes will appear, not unlike a porcupine, then the feathers will emerge from these tubes and they will be preened away, leaving a grey dust in the house.

Your birds will re-emerge, fully feathered in time for the colder weather.

ADVICE ON HANDLING CHICKS
From Storey's guide, the US poultry bible. They suggest avoiding handling for at least 72 hours after hatching because the chick has a yolk sac inside its tiny abdomen and squeezed too hard or let drop, the sac could break and the chick will get blood poisoning and die within 24 hours.

Most hens are very protective of their brood, and I leave them alone for the first few days. But it's especially important not to let small children play with chicks, however tempting and cuddly they are.

NEW H5N1 RESEARCH
Professor Derek Smith of Cambridge University warned on the Today Programme {June 22nd} that the H5N1 bird flu virus "is on the borderline" of being possible to change into a form able to spread rapidly between humans.

Potentially, with as few as five mutations, avian flu could become airborne and transmissable between birds and mammals and humans. Two of the five mutations had occurred in exisiting avian flu strains. The key question is "is three a lot, or a little?".

Professor Smith says "We now know that it is within the realms of possiblilty that these viruses can evolve in nature and what needs to be done. We should be relieved and vigilant following this research."

HENKEEPING COURSE IN OXFORDSHIRE
Cogges Hall nr Witney in Oxfordshire is holding a poultry keeping course on Saturday October 13th. For further information visit www.cogges.org.uk or phone 07970 780 514.

SAMPHIRE SMALLHODERS FAIR
Karen Nethercott's smallholding will be open to the public near Norwich on July 15th. Lots of excellent stalls including Little Red Hen Rescue. For info visit www.samphireshop.co.uk or phone 01379 674 413.

KENT HEN PARTY
For hatching eggs, pure breeds and all things garden hens, visit the Hen Party in Benenden on Sunday May 27th
email charles.hume@btinternet.com for information.

GREENS FOR HENS
It's the greenery that makes your birds' egg yolks that wonderful yellow, so give your flock access to the garden whenever you can. Grass is a great source of protein. If you don't have a lawn then grow grass or spinach in blue plastic greengrocers boxes, lined with newspaper, filled with compost and planted with seeds.

If you plant a few at a time and only leave them to be eaten down to the roots, they can be replaced in rotation giving the plants time to recover.

BIRD FLU RESEARCH TO BE PUBLISHED IN FULL
We learn from the BBc that recent research by Professor Ron Bouchier from the Erasmus Medical Centre in Rotterdam is set to be published in full, despite fears that the information could be a threat to public health.

The H5N1 virus is lethal to birds, but does not transmit easily to people. However this research proved that a handful of mutations could make it infectious to ferrets, apparently the best mimic for humans.

WHOLESALE EGG PRICES RISE
As a result of the ban on battery egg producing, whole sale prices for cake and icecream manufacturers has risen by an amazing 40% to 70%, resulting in a shortage. EU producers who have not yet affected the welfare improvements have been banned from exporting their eggs to this country. Retail prices are still stable, but are unlikely to remain so as retailers try to re-coup their ?400million investment in new welfare cages. The danger is that producers in Brazil and India where thee is no ban will export here.

PULLETS STARTING TO LAY
Valentines' Day and higher light levels trigger the new season's laying. Place a china egg in your nestbox to encourage pullets to lay where you want them to.

PROTECT YOUR BIRDS FROM THE COLD
Make sure your flock is sheltered from the elements with straw bales against the prevailing wind.

Insulate your house with layers of newspaper and straw.

Offer water in plastic bowls that are easy to knock out in icy weather.

A warming breakfast of wholemeal bread and porridge oats soaked in hot water is a good start to the day and may have to be served in their house if your birds are unwilling to brave the snow.

Look in the 'protect' and 'feeding' sections of this website for more information.

HEN KEEPING COURSES FOR 2012
Courses available from:
www.chickenschool.co.uk - Swindon Wilts
www.poultry.allotment.co.uk
wwwcotswoldchickens.com
www.jessieshens.co.uk - Cambridgeshire
If other course holders would like to promote their events, let us know at info@henkeepersassociation.co.uk.

HEN KEEPING COURSES FOR 2012
Courses from Francine Raymond from Whitstable in Kent www.kitchen-garden-hens.co.uk and at Assington Mill in Suffolk April 1st www.assingtonmill.co.uk. Also online courses from www.mygardenschool.co.uk.

BREEDERS AVAILABLE FOR SHOWS & EVENTS
Meadow Poultry based near Thetford in Norfolk who breed Sussex bantams are available to show with birds and housing. Contact them at meadowpoultry@live.co.uk.

NEW BOOK ON GARDEN HENS
A new book on how to create a chicken freindly yard from America by Jessi Bloom published by Timber Press.

EARLY DAY MOTIONS AFFECTING POULTRY WELFARE
Early day motions EDMs are formal motions or subjects submitted for debate in the House of Commons. Check to see whether your Mp is supporting the following subjects on htpp://www.parliament.uk/edm/2011-12.
221 Ban on Battery cages
1321 That the ban on conventional batteries should be consistant throughout the EU
1422 supporting the ban on the plucking of feathers from live birds
2443 that eggs from countries who are still not complying with the ban on conventional battery cages should be prevented from being sold in the UK.

POULTRY ANTIBIOTICS AFFECTING HUMANS
Scientists now believe that routine use of antibiotics in commercial poultry used as preventatives is affecting human resistance to infections. Overuse of medication is known to have made certain varieties ineffective, overuse in animals and poultry that we eat could be compounding the problem.

Drug resistant strains of MRSA have passed between humans and animals, and animals are building up resistance to routine antibiotics.

All the more reason to keep your own hens or buy organic products.

EGG PRODUCERS CHALLENGING EU EGG IMPORTS
British egg producers are challenging Defra ministers. New regulations slightly improving battery conditions that have taken 12 years to put in place, have not been completed in a quarter of eggs available here from the EU. Spain, Italy and Poland are still not totally compliant.

Since it isn't possible to trace the origins of egg products, customers are still unable to be sure their food has been produced by farmers using marginally enhanced living conditions.

UK STILL NOT COMPLIANT WITH EU BATTERY CASGE BAN
The Chicken out Campaign from Compassion in World Farming informs us that around 30 egg producers in the UK are still using illegal battery cages containing up to 300,000 hens. Join CIWF in lobbying DEFRA on their website www.ciwf.org.uk

NEW BIRD FLU OUTBREAK 30/8/11
The BBC alerts us that concerns are growing about a mutant strain of H5N1 spreading in Asia. Existing vaccines are ineffective. According to the UN World Health Organization, there have been 565 cases of human infection since 2003, 331 have been fatal. These deaths have been in South East Asia and have been in people in close contact with diseased birds.

RED MITE ALERT
The summer months can herald renewed outbreaks of red mites. Keep an eye on your birds to see if they are looking anaemic with pale pink combs and wattles; are laying less and have blood spots on their eggshells; and are disinclined to go to roost in their houses. Run a gloved finger along their roosting pole. If it's bloodstained then use a good insecticide like Nettex Total Mite Kill spray on your house and Total Mite powder on the birds.
See also Protect page.

NEW FEED COMPANY
Essex based feed company Fancy Feeds is producing a range of quality protein soya, linseed and grass meal feeds providing optimum nutrition. Chick crumbs, growers, layers and show pellets as well as mixed corn are available for poultry, as well as waterfowl, goat and wild bird feed. See www.fancyfeedcompany.co.uk 01371 850 247.

STEEL FRAMED WALK-IN RUN
4mx4m galvanized steel framed walk-in run, available from Gardenlife with mesh ground skirt, looks as though it may be the answer to fox visits. Light enough to move around the garden. Available in other sizes. Have a look on www.gardenlife.biz or call 07799 483 734.
Also available, a new poultry fencing system from www.fenceline.co.uk

RE-CYCLED WOOD POULTRY BEDDING
With a lower moisture content, this bedding is unlikely to produce moulds and mites, and is easy to compost. www.cozycoop.co.uk

AND HEMP BEDDING
Boosted with Eucalyptus, chopped hemp is a natural, dust-free eco-friendly product from www.flytesofancy.co.uk/hempbed-e or call 01300 345 229.

NEW UPDATE ON HENKEEPING AUG 2011
According to Daybreak Programme on Channel 3, there are now 700.000 people keeping 20 million backyard birds in UK.

ONLINE HENKEEPING COURSE
Francine Raymond has joined My Garden School to produce an on-line henkeeping course. To view this and other subjects available, see www.mygardenschool.co.uk. She is also giving a course at Hesbert Hall in Skipton North Yorks for the Saving Rare Breeds Society, see www.rsrb.org.uk.

PARASITE QUESTIONNAIRE
4th year student at The Royal Veterinary College, Laura Langstaff is investigating awareness of poultry parasites after her family lost their flock.

She says symptoms of infections can be suble,so she thinks awareness is essential. Please take the time to fill in her questionnaire on https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/KMMBBMC. The results are completely anonymous and will remain confidential. For any other info, contact Laura on llangstaff@rvc.ac.uk.

NEW BOOK FROM THE SPECIALIST SERIES
The Henkeeping Specialist is the latest in this useful range. Covers all the usual subjects with a good illustrated section on popular breeds. Published by New Holland.

NEW COURSES
Francine Raymond and Martin Gurdon will be touring the country with their henkeeping courses. See www.kitchen-garden-hens.co.uk for details.

NEW POULTRY MAGAZINE
Your Chickens - a new magazine from the Country Smallholding stable is on the bookstalls. Dedicated to the backyard poultry keeper, the first edition is full of news, articles and interest for beginners.

IMPENDING INCREASE IN FOOD PRICES
The spiralling cost of cereal and soya feeds and the extra ?400 million the industry has spent on putting the battery cage changes into practice will add a further 20% to supermarket poultry products. Please do not be tempted to buy cheaper food from abroad, they will not have the same level of welfare standards.

DANGER OF BAN ON BATTERY CAGES BEING DE-RAILED
Egg producers have had 12 years to prepare for this ban, but are now claiming they cannot be ready in time. Click on to the Compassion in Farming website www. chickenout.org to petition the Government and EU to proceed with ban.

COLD WEATHER PLOYS
*Give your birds extra daytime shelter with bales of straw to keep out the wind. Top with a covering to keep out the snow.
*Insulate the inside of the henhouse with layers of newspaper and make sure the popholes face away from the prevailing wind.
*Offer water in a plastic container that is easy to Knock the ice out, or take drinkers into your house at night. Top up with fresh water during the day if icy.
*A nice breakfast of wholemeal bread soaked in hot water with porridge oats makes a good start to the day. Sunflower hearts are a speacial treat.

DEATH OF BERNARD MATTHEWS
Purveyor of cheap turkey meat to the masses, Bernard Matthews died today aged 80.

BEAK TRIMMING ISN'T LIKE CUTTING YOUR FINGER NAILS
New incentive by the Chicken Out and Compassion in World Farming to prevent the painful mutilation commonly practised on chicks destined to be layers. Support them to protect the UK ban on beak trimming.

VERM-X GIVEN ETHICAL ACCREDITATION
New Verm-ex pelleted Poultry Spice is recommended for improving all-round condition. Enriched with Turmeric, ginger, fenugreek, aniseed and sunflower oil. For information on suppliers email sales@verm-x.com.

NEW NOISE ABATEMENT LAWS
The Poultry Club of Great Britain has made a proposal on the government website suggesting changes to the noise abatement laws. http://yourfreedom.hmg.gov.uk/retoring-civil-liberties/amendment-to-the-noise-pollution-laws.-pre-existing-noise

The proposal is:
When dealing with noise complaints, no abatement orders should be issued if it can be proved that the noise in question was already present and ongoing for more than two years before the complainant moved into their property, or if the complainant could have easily known about the noise in advance of the purchase. This wwould stop the vastly unfair situation of someone having to stop an activity, business or hobby they may have been doing for years just because someone new moves in next door and dislikes what the existing neighbours are doing.

Exceptions could be made if the noise got worse. Those keeping poultry would do well to go to the site and lend their support.

RATS!
Watch out as the rats leave the fields after harvest. A new company - Stop Rat offers fast rodent solutions and free online rat control guide.
See www.stoprat.co.uk 01903 538 488.

NEW AUTOMATIC DOOR DEVICE
Have a look at a new website www.henwise.com for details of the Pullitt - an automatic device that opens and closes the pophole on henhouses. Available through Forsham Cottage Arks, the HA is interested in any new poultry products designed to make life easier.

DESIGN A T-SHIRT - SAVE A BATTERY HEN
Compassion in World Farming and the Chicken Out team are running a t-shirt design competition. Just right for the kids during the summer holidays. seee www.cwf.org.

GREAT BIG DEAL CHICKEN COUNT
Transition town Deal in Kent has started a hen census. Members in Kent should check out http://transitionaldeal.blogspot.com.2010/07great-big-deal-chicken-count.html or phone Steve Wakefield on 01304 372 673.

DEFRA CONTACTED ON BEHALF OF MEMBER
When a Henkeepers' Association member emailed us recently bemoaning the information given to beginners both on their website and by phone, we passed on their complaints to Defra officials who promised that with the change of government, their policies would be amended and the member's thoughts would be taken into account.

Specifically, suggestions were made that Defra could promote poultry health by keeping all keepers whether registered or not better informed to protect the national flock.
That vaccines {especially Mareks} should be available in small doses, and that Defra should supply lists of vaccine suppliers and avian vets.
There should be information available on how to dispose of carcasses.
That a leaflet should be available covering the legal and hygiene responsibilities of poultry keepers.
That breeders should also be obliged to pass on such a leaflet with basic information to buyers of their birds.

While agreeing that there are still a huge amount of old wives tales about,the Henkeepers' Association points out that there have never been more books, courses and information available to the general public in libraries, shops and on-line, though many newcomers seem to prefer taking information from well-meaning souls who propagate damaging misinformation. We agree that Defra's website could be a lot better designed and promote better information, and are happy to help Defra achieve this.

There is always the danger in more involvement from the authorities, that this would entail more monitoring of keepers by the powers that be, something that most people want to avoid.

THE PRIVATE LIVES OF CHICKENS
Part of a series introduced by Jimmy Doherty on personalitles of the animals we eat. Thursday 15th July 8pm BBC 2.

CONTINUING THE FIGHT AGAINST DE-BEAKING
Log on to http://www.chickenout.tv/edm260 and contact your MP.

NEW MARANS CLUB WEBSITE
The Marans Club of Great Britain established 60 years ago, and celebrating its diamond jubilee this year, has a newly-hatched website www.themaransclub.co.uk.

SMALLHOLDER COMPETITION 6/6/10
Country Smallholding Magazine is holding a competion 2010 Smallholder of the Year. They are offering ?1000 prize for the winner and ?500 for Junior Smallholder. Entry forms are available in their June and July editions of the magazine or online on: http://www.countrysmallholding.com/smallholder-of-the-year--221353. Good luck to you all!

CALLING ALL CHICKEN KEEPERS IN GREATER LONDON 2/6/10
A small team from the Royal Veterinary College would like to hear from you about your chicken experiences! To take part in their fully confidentail and anonymous survey, and get a chance to win up to ?50 cash, visit this site: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/G8GR3JF or contact Iveta Karabozhilova on ikarabozhilova@rve.ac.uk 07588 791 286.
The Henkeepers' Association feels that it's essential for vets to know the needs of people who keep a few hens. Nowadays, many diseases are diagnosed post mortem in the industry, and vets' understanding of or requirements is sporadic.

NEW REPORT: HENS ARE SENTIENT
From the Observer, Dr Jonathan Balcombe's book Second Nature: the Inner Lives of Animals writes that animals experience more thought and feelings than humans imagine.

In an experiment, hens reacted in the same way as humans to the human face in more than 98% of cases, proving that they were perceptive about cues and their perceptions are similar to ours in terms of aestethics.

POULTRY WATCH UK
Set up in response to increase in thefts, for further details see www.poultrywatch.uk.webs.com.

SUFFOLK HEN PARTY
Visit the Kitchen Garden on Easter Saturday and meet breeders showing their birds and selling hatching eggs. Feed, housing and equipment for sale, also cakes, plants and produce. Egg hunt for children and light refreshments available. For fruther deatails see www.kitchen-garden-hens.co.uk

BEDDING TIP
Member Alicia Weedy sent us information on Aubiose hemp bedding for poultry. With the possibillity of mites persisting in hollow straw bedding, we'll be interested to hear her comments after use. See www.aubiouse.co.uk, Other alternative bedding products available include Hemcore and Easibed.

FLOCK SECURITY
We'd like to remind members to keep their flocks secure after a series of break-ins and thefts of poultry and equipment. Those planning new runs should consider siting them as near to their house as they can bear. Runs at the bottom of long gardens are vulnerable.

BATTERY BAN TO STAND
Good news from the Chicken out team that the EU Council of Agriculture Ministers have rejected Poland's attempt to delay the Europe-wide ban on battery cages. AS a result the ban is still due to come into froce as planned in 2012.

BEAK TRIMMING BAN
Defra is consulting on its amendment of the Mutilations{Permitted Procedures}legislation banning the routine beak trimming of laying hens. For further information see www.defra.gov.uk.

VALENTINES DAY
Februaruy 14th heralds the start of the laying season. Poultry keepers with young pullets should place a broody egg in a straw lined nestbox to encourage their birds to lay.

COLD WEATHER TIPS
Poultry is well-insulated, but recent weather will be testing. Extra straw bales are useful to prevent draughts and can be topped with a board for daytime shelter. Make sure your house is insulated with newspaper and lots of straw.

Offer water in a plastic tupperware bowl, easy to knock out the ice, and re-fill several times a day. Younger birds probably won't want to leave their house. Maybe leave a door open for some daylight during the middle part of the day.

Hot porridge or wholemeal bread soaked in warm water will be appreciated for breakfast first thing, and the shortest days mean supper should be served early. Birds, used to free ranging that have no access to soil should be offered grit available from feed merchants to allow them to digest their feed. Scrape away a small area of snow to allow access to grass and offer a half cabbage or lettuce for greenery. A large cardboard box full of samdpit sand and woodash for dustbathing undercover will be used constantly.

Keep the house out of draughts, and protect the floor with boards, be careful you don't slip. Happy New Year to all our members.

EX-BATTERY HEN WEBSITE
Not before time! Judging by the amount of queries we get. Valerie's Ex-Battery Chicken Diary at www.stand1.co.uk deals with healthcare and problems. Owners of Ex-bats should remember to sign the Chciken out Campaign to help the countless millions of birds unable to be re-homed.www.chickenout@cwf.org.

WORMS!
Informative article by Janice Houghton-Wallace in December's Smallholder Magazine on parasites. She suggests a regular worming programme, as well as rotating pasture, good drainage, regular changing of litter and feeding in containers because worms not only threaten a bird's overall condition, but also make it more susceptible to other diseases.

BBC LOOKING FOR HEN KEEPERS 9/10/09
A BBC television programme is looking for keepers of between 25 - 50 birds, either layers or table birds, who has a good understanding of their behaviour, and prepared to be interviewed and filmed. If you are interested phone Kate Pringle on 0141 422 6972 or email kate.pringle@bbc.co.uk.

US CRAZE FOR KEEPING HENS 5/10
Listeners to Radio Four's Americana programme yesterday will have heard that keeping hens as 'productive pets' is the latest and fastest growing hobby in the States. Correspondent Susan Orlean believes that we are taking care of ourselves in a shaky world. and that producing our own food gives us a little independence from the powers that be. Americans seem to be favouring old British pure breeds, and many of the individual states' restrictions on keeping poultry are being lifted.

GARLIC-BASED RED MITE PRODUCT
NoMite-PHD is a fast-acting disinfectant that will fight the mite, and because the active ingredient is Allicin, no egg withdrawal is neccessary. For info and stockists phone 01424 830 357.

RECYCLED PLASTIC HOUSING
see www.greenfrogdesigns.co.uk

FREE-RANGE HENS 'MORE LIKELY TO SUFFER FRACTURES'.
The Telegraph reports that new research carried out by the Scottish Agricultural College's avian research department has found that 'free-range birds' - those kept mostly in barns - are more likely to suffer potential risks such as fractures. Their spokesperson pointed out that Hugh and Jamie are not being fair to the consumer unless they make the effort to find out all the facts!

The Henkeepers' Association wonders who financed the research, and ponders the philosophical conundrum of the drawbacks of freedom

RED MITE ALERT
Members should be watchful of birds showing signs of anaemia, lack of condition and unwillingness to go to roost. Could your henhouse be home to red mite? Harkers tried and tested Duramitex treats the mite throughout all stages of life. For info contact Petlife on 01284 761 131.

MEMBER'S ADVICE 1
Do not leave sweetcorn in the run for dogs to eat - it is bad for them.

MEMBER'S ADVICE 2
From Australia the news that plastic drinkers can degrade in sunlight to the detriment of birds' health.

GIVE YOUR BIRDS A BOOST
The moult is a particularly demanding rime for birds. Most of the protein consumed will go towards growing new feathers. Up their rations and add a supplement, such as Poultry Spice or Lifeguard.

MESSAGE FROM DEFRA 26/08/09
Reminding members not to go near poultry if they are suffering from 'flu' and stick to biosecurity measures.

39 DAYS OF ACTION FOR CHICKEN OUT CAMPAIGN
Check out Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall and Compassion in World Farmings ' new campaign on tour and online at www.chickenout@cwf.org.

STRESS INCREASES INCIDENCE OF FOOD POISONING BACTERIA IN POULTRYMEAT
A new report from Bristol University confirms that birds that have suffered stress through high density,poor catching methods and prolongued transportation are less resistant to diseases that cause food poisoning in humans. 70% of poultry meat carries campylobactor bacteria.

Following cooking instructions and good personal hygiene can lessen the risk of poisoning, but the Henkeepers' Association encourages improved conditions in poultry industry practice that will result in improved human health.

DEFRA REGISTERED POULTRY SLAUGHTERING COURSE
For those wanting to raise birds for the table, Cotswold Chickens are running a dress and dispatch course. For details ring 01608 683 912.

NEW MITE CONCENTRATE
For those battling with mite problems, Total Mite Liquid Concentrate, in a handy spray is available from www.net-text.co.uk.

NATIONAL H5N1 SURVEY 28/7/09
Defra tell us that for the first time game birds are being sampled as part of the annual survey, as well as other random poultry premises.

NEW GARLIC BASED PRODUCT RANGE
Nopex is a new range of internal and external remedies for poultry, based on garlic, which won't egg taint. Contact nopex@mantel-farm.co.uk.

FOX DETERRENT
A new solar-powered fox frightener from US is now available here www.soalpredatorprotection.co.uk. We'd love to hear of members' success with this product.

ALLAN & PAGE EX-BATS RANGE
Feed merchants Allan & Page have produced a range of feed specially formaulated for ex-battery birds, with elevated calcium levels to guard against osteoporosis, elevated Vitamin E to help recover from stress and omega 3 oils. A proportion of profits goes to the Battery Hen Welfare Trust.

NEW ORGANIC INFORM WEBSITE
Organic Inform have a new easy-to-use website with direct links to specific interests, such as poultry. New stories include encouragement to organic keepers to grow their own naked oats, cut their feed bills and be less reliant on imports, and an interesting story on Swine Flu - 'once again, the global meat industry is at the centre of the latest crisis, ramping up denials as the weight of evidence about its role grows'. For more info, see www.organicinform.org

RUBBER CHIPPING WARNING
Apparently on the market for chicken runs. These chippings can not be composted or disinfected and are therefore not suitable flooring materials.

LIVE VACCINE FEAR
Highlighted in Practical Poultry magazine, the dangers to your existing flock of introducing commercial hybrids that have been vaccinated with live vaccines. Make sure that if new purchases have been vaccinated, it is with dead vaccine.

OMLET MARKETPLACE
Henhouse providers Omlet are offering a free sales listing venue for poultry and products, see www.omlet.co.uk/breeds or call James on 01295 757 142

REPLY FROM DEFRA
To our letter complaining again about battery conditions and the mislabelling of chicken products, informing us that a possible harmonised mandatory labelling scheme for chicken meat will be assessed in December 2009. Also that a 12 week consulatation setting out minimum welfare rules is considering responses....

NEW FEED ON THE MARKET
Dutch feed company Garvo www.garvo.eu is now selling their range of poultry feed in this country.
They produce Fancy Chicken mash and pellets, Chick starter, mixed corn and supplements.

NEW SUPPLEMENT
Verm-x have produced a completely natural formula to help keep birds in good condition. Said to contain ginseng, echinacea, calcium, sunflower oil and seaweed. See www.verm-x.com.

10,000 BATTERY HENS RESCUED 23/6/09 Hopefully all those rescuers have also registered their views on battery units to Defra or their MPs.

10,000 BATTERY HENS NEED RESCUING 15/5/09
Little Hen Rescue have 10.000 battery hens to be rehomed by the end of June. See www.littlehen rescue.co.uk.
There are innumerable other battery hens that need saving, support the chicken out campaign, Compassion in World Farming and lobby your MP to get battery farming banned.

The Henkeepers' Association has written to Defra Minister Hilary Benn MP again, demanding cessation of battery farming and also the mislabelling of chicken products' country of origin.

COOKING CHICKEN
Ineresting article by cook Elizabeth Luard in May Country Living Magazine on cooking fowl.

HOMEOPATHIC VET
For a homeopathic vet in your area, contact www.bahvs.cvom
Visit homeopathic vet Holly Mash's website www.hollymashvet.com. She has clinics in Bristol and Barnes. Holly recommends seaweed as a tonic for hens. Use powdered seaweed, available for human consumption from healthfood shops and mix it with a little moistened wholemeal bread.

ARE YOU IN SUFFOLK OVER EASTER?
If so visit the Kitchen Garden for their Hen Party. For further details see:www.kitchen-garden-hens.co.uk

CRACKINGLY GOOD EGGS
The latest Little Green Book - by Henrietta Green, supported by Freedom Foods. For further details visit www.foodloversbritain.com.

RISE IN NUMBERS OF HEN KEEPERS
A sharp increase in the amount of people keeping garden poultry was announced on BBC news this morning. Apparently one in 25 households have discovered the joys of chickens and fresh eggs.

AVIAN SPECIALIST VETERINARY PRACTICE
CJ Hall Vets have a special interest in Avian medicine, treating all species of birds, including waterfowl, racing pigeons, game birds and domestic fowl. Contact them on www.cjhall-vets.co.uk.

Vets that can treat poultry are as rare as hens' teeth, so if members have anyone they can recommend, do let us know on info@henkeepersassociation.co.uk. and we'll start a list on the 'protect' page

TESCO LABELLING
Have a look at the new designs for realistic labelling suggestions by the public for Tesco's cheap chicken on www.chickenout.tv/label-competition-entries.

AI UPDATE 27/2/09
News from Defra that the AI subtype is H6N1 which is not dangerous to humans.

OUTBREAK OF LOW PATH AI AT BERNARD MATTHEWS' FARMS 26/2/09
Outbreaks of avian influenza, that are neither H5 or H7 have been reported at two Bernard Matthews' poultry breeding farms at Yaxham in Norfolk and Ubbeston in Suffolk. Defra tell us they have placed restrictions on the premises in question. Further test results will be forthcoming.

OUTBREAK OF LOW PATH AI IN FRANCE 8/2/09
News from Defra of an outbreak of low-pathenogenic H5 subtype of avian influenza on a duck breeding farm in the Vendome region of France.

Defra takes this opportunity to remind poultry keepers to maintain bio-security.

WELL DONE, HUGH!
The Henkeepers' Association would like to congratulate Hugh on his continuing campaign to encourage or shame Tesco's sale of low price chickenmeat.

HA will be writing to all major supermarkets in an effort to persuade them to label their produce CLEARLY with the country of origin and the system used to raise animals.

HENKEEPING COURSES
Check out our list of poultry keeping courses on the'publications' page. We would certainly encourage new members to attend a course, to increase knowledge, self confidence and enjoyment of your flock.

NEW WEBSITES
HA welcomes several new poultry keeping websites. www.poultrykeeper.com is a useful information site, and www.chickenkeepingsecrets.com enables you to doownload entire volumes of early 20th century poultry classics.

Several major bird keeping bodies have got together to produce a new strategy for legislation on bird welfare, see www.birdwelfarestrategy.org.uk.

COLD WEATHER
Protect your birds from icy winds with bales of straw. Insulate their houses with sheets of newspaper, and make sure water is replaced several times a day. Use a large plastic flower pot saucer, that is easy to knock out when frozen solid. For further advice, check out the protect, feeding and diary pages. Mind you don't slip on your way to the run on icy mornings.

BREEDS MEAN PRIZES! 10/12/08
Penguin Books have re-issued their seminal wartime book - Keeping Poultry and Rabbits on Scraps by Claude Goodchild and Alan Thompson. They have three copies available for the first Henkeepers' Association members who contact us on info@henkeepersassociation.co.uk with the names of three British breeds of hen.

The senders of the first three correct replies' details will be forwarded to Penguin who will send you a copy of this useful though it must be admitted, charmingly time-warped publication.

WARNINGS OF INCREASED RISK OF AVIAV FLU AS MIGRATION REACHES ITS PEAK 7/11/08
Poultry vets are alerting the industry to thew increased risk of AI after an outbreak in Northern Germany.

There is a special risk on mixed species sites where low pathenogenic viruses may circulate in wild birds, showing no signs of illness, but when the disease reaches birds kept in high density, it mutates to a high path state.

Vets suggest that feral and domestic flocks should be kept separate. The Henkeepers' Association wonders if it may be the conditions and density that the birds are kept in, that may cause the variation in seriousness of the virus.

SURGE IN MEMBERSHIP
The Henkeepers' Association Membership has passed the 6000 mark. Please tell your friends. The more members we have, the louder voice we have when dealing with the powers that be.

CULLING COURSES
A Defra-registered poultry slaughterer is running courses on killing and preparing poultry carcasses for the table. For information contact Alison Wilson on alison@chickenkeeper.co.uk.

REMEMBER, REMEMBER THE FIFTH OF NOVEMBER....
Make sure your flock are tucked away with popholes closed before the fireworks start, and next morning, that any spent fireworks are removed from the run.

Check that bonfire sites are raked to remove cinders before your birds are let out. Woodash is a favourite for dustbathing.

INTERESTING ACCOUNT OF SMALLHOLDER'S EXPERIENCES WITH EX BATTERY HENS
Emma Durston tells how she and her family gave a new lease of life to rescued hens in December's edition of Smallholder. See also www.bhwt.org.uk

EGG PRICE DEBATE IN OBSERVER 19/10/08
Alex Renton investigates the rocketing price of eggs. Farmers and supermarkets both deny profiteering. The verdict is that it's the fault of shady middlemen. Join the debate on the OFM blog: www.observer.co.uk/foodblog.

HOBBYISTS WARNED TO KEEP HENS HEALTHY
Janssen Animal Health are warning henkeepers that their birds could be paying a high price for their freedom - unless take an active interest in their healthcare - and maybe buy their products. For a copy of their advice phone 01494 567 555.

AVERAGE BRITON CONSUMEs 550 POULTRY BIRDS IN A LIFETIME
We eat an average of 83g of protein daily, of which 50g is meat, the equivalent of a chop or chicken breast, about 40 percent above the WHO recommendation, amounting to a lifetime's consumption of a staggering 8 cattle, 36 sheep, and 36 pigs.

IGNORING RED MITE CAN LEAD TO INFESTATIONS IN YOUR OWN HOUSE
November's Practical Poultry warns us that not dealing with red mite problems in the hen house, can spread the problem on to human clothing and from their into your house and bed.

Check along the perch in the morning. Any trace of blood found is a good indication of parasite problems. Go to the PROTECT and PRODUCT section ffor remedies, which must be carried out at fortnightly intervals following the manufacturer's instructions.

The article then suggests you shower, change your clothes and wash them separately. Are you scratching?

LIVE SHACKLING OF CHICKENS SHOULD CEASE 17/8/08
The Observer reports that the Farm Animal Welfare Council - an independent body advising the government - is to call on the poultry industry to vigorously address the practice, which sees live birds shackled upside down to be stunned in electrified water before their throats are sliced by mechanised blades - the most common method used to kill the 850 million chickens that we eat annually. Compassion in World Farming has welcomed the report.

SUFFOLK FARMER FINED 11/8/08
Suffolk farmer Geoffrey Buchanon of Gressingham Foods near Diss was fined ?4000.00 plus costs, for illegally storing and moving carcasses during the AI outbreak in December last year. However Mr Buchanon is reported to have said he wishes to make it abundantly clear that these offences were not linked to the outbreak.

We remind members that turkeys at a Gressingham farm tested positive for AI on November 13th 2007, leading to thousands of birds including ducks and geese being slaughtered in an attempt to stop the virus spreading.

The East Anglian Daily Times reports that over the ensuing 10 days the disease moved from the farm to five other sites owned by their subsidiary company - Redgrave Poultry, leading to further culls.

DEFRA WANTS TO EXTEND REMIT OF POULTRY REGISTER 1/8/08
Defra is consulting with the industry about their intention to widen the scope of the Poultry Register's current role of information dispersal about AI, to include management of other diseases, ad hoc surveys and the planning of official site visits.

The NFU are alarmed, stating that it is not in the original remit, worrying it will result in random on-farm checks aand will discourage poultry keepers from registering.

The Countryside Alliance added its fears of database security, citing the government's poor record.

Currently all people keeping more than 50 birds are legally obliged to register.

Jeff Rooker, Defra Minister insists that poultry keepers will benefit from better joined-up working within government, reducing the need to constantly ask them for the same information.

The Henkeepers' Association feels that the original information was elicited under false pretences, as we were always assured it would only be used to give updates on the AI situation.

H5 VACCINE LOSING EFFECTIVENESS IN HONG KONG
Chinese microbiologists are noticing reduction in effectiveness of the H5N1 vaccine which has been used in Hong Kong over the last 7 years. They urge manufacturers to come up with new strains.

CALL F
    20/7/06
NEW MEMBERS


The Henkeepers' Association is getting at least 10 new members a day! Please make your views on vaccination known. Email your MP {Fred Bloggs} on BLOGGSF@parliament.uk, but do it now, they are all off on holiday soon until October. If you don't know who your MPis try www.theyworkforyou.com

LAUNCH OF VACCINATION NATION
Civilised strategies for protecting outdoor poultry fron Avian Flu

The hottest day of the year saw representatives of the organic free range poultry industry,Defra, the pharmaceutical industry and many domestic poultry keeping groups, including the Henkeepers'Association join Ministers, MPs, and reporters at a cramped reception at Westminster.

Organised by Elm Farm Organic Research Centre and hosted by Richard Benyon MP, speakers included Lib Dem MP Andrew George, Dutch NBvH secretary Christine Bijl and Director of Elm Farm Lawrence Woodward, who called for the Governement to act now to protect outdoor poultry from A1 by using "the scientifically proven, politically and socially acceptable route" of preventative vaccination, and prepare a plan, submit it to the EU, and ensure that there is sufficient vaccine to stock a preventative vaccination campaign.

To see a full copy of the report and scientific data:
www.efrc.com/vacnat

HEATWAVE ALERT
Common sense dictates that birds need shade and space during this hot weather. Water must be freshened regularly and houses kept ventilated and clean. For further tips, see Diary page in Publications section.

10/7/06
DEFRA'S BUDGET

Richard Allison Editor of Poultry World reports that Defra has allocated only ?0.65m to Avian Flu in this year's Vet science budget of ?300m.
Why is the Government starving the industry of research cash at such a crucial time?

10/7/06
RECEPTION AT HOUSE OF COMMONS

Representatives from the Henkeepers' Association have been invited to a reception at the House of Commons next week, as part of the Preventative Vaccination Alliance, organized by Elm Farm Research Centre - the UK,s leading Organic research and advisory body. We will report back after the event.

9/7/06
EU AGREES TO EXTENTION OF DUTCH VACCINATION PLAN

This includes widening the scope to cover more species, provision for birds to be moved for exhibition and changes which will make vaccination cheaper and easier for hobby keepers.

At migration, keepers have the choice to vaccinate or keep their birds undercover. Birds within 1km of outbreaks may still be slaughtered, but the intention is not to slaughter, unless the outbreak is out of control.

NEW COMBINED DROPLET VACCINE DEVELOPED IN US & GERMANY
Mount Sinai School of Medicine NY and Friedreich-Loeffler Institute have engineered a combination vaccine of Newcastle Disease and avian influenza which shows great promise. Its ease of application, through drinking water or air diffusion will make the vaccine popular with the poultry industry, who will then use their might to persuade Defra.

12/6/06
HENKEEPERS' WEBSITE GOES ONLINE FREE TO SUBSCRIBERS

We feel that the information provided should be accessible to all, and in order to get a true reflection of pro-vaccination support have decided to offer a free information network to all small-scale henkeepers who subscribe. We hope eventually to be sponsored by companies.

RED MITE ALERT!
For protection tips see PROTECT section.

NORFOLK H7 UPDATE
Defra has not found any links between the three units that were infected recently with H7, except their closeness to one another. Domestic poultry and feed sources have been eliminated, and Defra are now focusing on wild birds and visitors.

31/5/06
FROM BEN BRADSHAW IN A REPLY TO OUR LETTER 10/5/06

"Prior to the compulsory slaughter of birds for avian flu disease control purposes, Veterinary Officers will carry out clinical inspections. As Ms Raymond is aware, compensation is payable for healthy birds that are compulsorily slaughtered for disease control purposes and the amount is their value immediately before slaughter."
This comment from the Minister was in reply to mine, that our birds are valued pets!

15/5/06
LETTER FROM HRH THE PRINCE OF WALES' PRIVATE SECRETARY

"The Prince of Wales has asked me to thank you most warmly for your letter of 8th May about the risks of Avian Flu and vaccination policy. His Royal Highness was most interested to read your letter, not least because this is a subject in which he took a particular interest during the Foot and Mouth outbreak and he can well understand your anxieties about the threat which avian flu poses to pure and traditional breeds of poultry. Indeed, it is a subject which he has discussed with Patrick Holden, the Director of the Soil Association, of which His Royal Highness is Patron. The Prince of Wales would strongly recommend that you make urgent contact with Patrick because the Soil Association has done a good deal of work in this area. He can be reached on........Meanwhile the Prince of Wales will continue to monitor the situation very closely, and he has asked me to send you his warmest good wishes and thanks you for writing as you did."

MEMBERS' EXPERIENCE
Recently a member phoned to say that he had lost one of his flock the night before and two further birds had died that morning. He lives within 10 miles of Dereham. We agreed that he should contact his vet immediately who luckily worked for a large poultry practice. Initial prognosis was that the symptoms didn't indicate H7. Tests results were returned within 4 hours and post mortem results three days later proved that the birds had taken poison.
Sad, but not as worrying as it might have been. We wondered what might have happened if the Dereham case had been H5N1, and if the vet had not been a poultry specialist. We doubt that the rest of the flock would have been spared before the results were in.
It may be a good idea for members to contact their vets to find out what would happen to their flock in similar circumstances.

30/04/06
TWO FURTHER FARMS INFECTED

2 more farms in the Dereham area have been infected with H7N3 with 15,000 commercial freerange birds to be slaughtered. Two other farms have been found to be clear. A 1km restriction zone has been set up around all three infected farms. Poultry keepers will not be asked to house their birds at this stage. Wild birds in the area have tested negative and Defra doesn't know which farm is the source of the infection. So much for surveillance and centralized diagnostic technology.

27/04/06
OUTBREAK OF H7 IN HOCKERING nr DEREHAM IN NORFOLK
A low pathenogenic strain of N7 has been found in a 35,000 strong battery flock in Norfolk. This virus apparently presents zero risk to humans {according to Defra}and is low risk to birds, although tests continue. Results will be published within the next two days. Does Defra have Intervet's H5/H7 vaccine in stock?

East Anglia has the largest concentration of commercial poultry in Europe. The Hockering flock, apparently laying birds, destined for the petfood industry,were hatched in France and reared off site, form part of a poultry company with 30 other units in the surrounding area.

Local henkeepers should protect their birds {see protect page}and make plans to carry out local Defra instructions delivered to 1800 homes in the area, which may be less draconian than those for H5N1.

NEW VACCINE
Japanese researchers have successfully produced a vaccine for domestic fowl that would offer more rapid immunity

19/04/06
HENKEEPERS? ASSOCIATION PUT ON DEFRA?S STAKEHOLDERS DATABASE
In a letter from Ben Bradshaw we are told ?that it is crucial that keepers follow biosecurity measures including isolating flocks from wild birds in the event of an outbreak or if the disease risk increases and if they keep their birds outdoors they need to have a clear plan for housing them indoors.
Where housing is not possible, you will be required to take all reasonable steps to minimise contact between your birds and wild birds, and ensure that your birds do not have any direct or indirect contact with poultry or captive birds on other holdings.?

Further information can be seen in the leaflet Preparing for Influenza- Separating Flocks from Wildbirds on www.defra.gov.uk/animalh/diseases/notifiable/diseas/ai/keptbirds/indx.htm#biosecurity
Apparently Defra are currently reviewing this document and are asking us for comments. We have yet to hear from them.


REPLY FROM BEN BRADSHAW TO OUR LETTERS
16/04/06
?No birds in the UK have been vaccinated against A1. Although vaccination offers potential benefits in disease control, currently available A1 vaccines are too limited to provide a general solution.

Crucially, although A1 vaccines are able to reduce bird mortality from the disease, it is likely that some vaccinated birds would still be capable of transmitting the disease if they became infected without displaying symptoms of the disease. Vaccinated birds could therefore pass the disease on to other birds while symptoms of the disease would be masked, making detection and eradication considerably more difficult. Influenza viruses can also mutate rapidly, which could render a vaccine less useful.

The vaccines have severe practical limitations in that they need to be delivered by individually injecting each bird. It can take up to three weeks for the birds to develop optimum protective immunity and some poultry require two doses. This would be a considerable challenge in commercial poultry flocks of tens of thousands of birds. There are also welfare implications for birds through the necessary increase in handling, which would also pose a risk to worker performing the vaccinations. A1 vaccines are therefore different from other successful vaccines, such as those for Newcastle Disease, which are administered through aerosol or in drinking water rather than individual injection.

Naturally, other EU member states, also recognize these limitations and do not regard vaccination as a perfect solution. Those countries that do propose to vaccinate are setting up very costly administrative programmes to oversee vaccination and to provide intensive monitoring and surveillance over a potentially lengthy time period. Such programmes may be justified in Member States where the industry is very densely located in a single region, or where trade out of the region is principally in eggs and poultry products, rather than live birds. Vaccination may also be justified where the disease has become endemic, as in parts of South East Asia, or as one part of a range of emergency controls in the event of outbreaks.

However, in UK circumstances, Defra believes that swift detection and culling of infected flocks and dangerous contacts and the imposition of movement controls around infected premises is a more effective and efficient approach and that vaccination could reduce Defra?s ability and resources to achieve that objective.

Ongoing discussions with stakeholders have reached a broad concensus that preventative vaccination does not currently provide an effective and efficient means of controlling A1 and that good biosecurity followed by housing of birds is the best response to a heightened threat.

Nevertheless, Defra does of course keep its policy under review as vaccine manufacturers continue to develop their products, and Defra is planning for the option of emergency vaccination if needed in an outbreak. There may be circumstances during an outbreak when emergency vaccination would be appropriate but this would be subject to a risk assessment at the time.?

Our reply to the Minister
THE CHOICE TO VACCINATE BACKYARD FLOCKS
Dear Ben Bradshaw,

Thank you for taking the time to reply to our letter of 31st March. The points you raise are not new to us, and in many cases are irrelevant to our particular situation as backyard poultry keepers.

Our pure breed poultry cost on average ?25.00 per head, rising hugely for rarer breeds and some waterfowl. They are, to all intents and purposes, our pets, and we feel we have the right to protect them. We are aware of the complications: the double vaccination, the blood tests, the costs, all of this is irrelevant. We are prepared to pay. We know that our fellow hobby keepers in Holland are in the process of vaccinating their flocks, and as fellow Europeans, demand the same opportunities to avoid having to keep our birds in situations we would consider detrimental to their welfare. The larger breeds would suffer dreadfully if confined. In fact, the British Veterinary Association supports vaccination in cases where the welfare of birds is under threat.

You obviously believe in the efficacy of the vaccine because you have just bought 2 million doses for zoo birds, and have signalled your understanding of the importance of derogating pure breeds for the good of the genetic bank. Why not give 500,000 households the peace of mind that their birds? and families? health will not be compromised and give us the choice to vaccinate.

We aware that there are obviously many more pressing issues with commercial poultry for you to take care of, but urge you to take our particular claims seriously.


Other Organizations Supporting Vaccination:
Elm Farm Research Centre
Indian Runner Duck Association
British Waterfowl Association
Goose Club
Poultry Club of GB
Scots Dumpy Club
Poultry Club of Wales
Turkey Club UK
Call Duck Association
Araucana Club UK
Modern Game Club

VACCINES DO WORK
The UK has ordered 2.3 million doses of avian influenza vaccine for zoo birds. It has, according to the Guardian {8.4.06}, now ordered 10 million more doses. Would it do that if the vaccine is useless? Of course not.

In Holland they are now conducting a vaccination programme for pure breeds and pets. It had taken ?blood, sweat and tears?* but they have got there.

Government officials constantly say that vaccinating birds masks the disease. Who is advising them? Practice in Hong Kong says otherwise.

* Since the start of vaccination in 2003, there have been no AI cases in these birds, or sentinel birds kept with them to check for disease.

* In field challenge studies {Avian Pathology, 334} vaccination completely stopped virus circulation on the Hong Kong farm.

* In laboratory challenge studies David Swayne {Southeast Poultry Research Laboratory, USDA/ARS, Athens, Georgia, US} shows that the vaccines protect completely. Challenged, non-vaccinated birds excreted large amounts of virus. The majority of vaccinated birds did not excrete any virus; the minority excreted 10,000 to 100,000 times less virus than controls.

* In transmission experiments PNAS 2005; Vol 102 vaccination with Nobilis Influenza H7N1 transmission of the virus to contact birds was completely blocked when birds were challenged 2 weeks after vaccination. A similar transmission study at Lelystadt demonstrated that vaccination of ducks completely blocked the challenge virus from infected vaccinated ducks to contact vaccinated ducks.

The truth is that, if birds are vaccinated preventively {prophylactically} before infection arrives, they are very well protected. Birds free from disease, inoculated with a dead vaccine, CANNOT shed virus. IF they are later challenged with disease, then a small number may contract the disease. If they do, experiments show that they shed virus for up to three days, but shed such a tiny amount that they do not even infect sentinel birds. There is very good flock immunity.

Which do we want: mass infection and a mass cull with mountains of infected litter and bodies or protected free-range flocks which are vaccinated and monitored?

People should have the choice of vaccination for their pet and free range birds now. The argument ?to vaccinate or not to vaccinate? is about risk. Which risk is more serious: to leave birds unprotected to infect humans, or to reduce risk infection? If the virus were to be introduced by the wild bird population anyway, how could your vaccinated birds be a risk to you?

We have probably no vaccine in the bank in the UK above the zoo bird requirement. Organisations such as:
OIE http://www.oie.int/eng/en_index.htm World Organisation for Animal Health
CIWF http://www.ciwf.org.uk/ Compassion in World Farming
BVA http://www.bva.co.uk British Veterinary Association

ultimately advocate using vaccine to reduce mass killing. Why can?t DEFRA act, to have a policy before it is too late for people with vulnerable outdoor birds?
Dr Christine Ashton.

POET JOHN BURNSIDE ON THE CELLARDYKE OUTBREAK
Writes in the Guardian 15/4 regretting the loss of birds from sight and concludes:
"Nobody would advocate taking unnesseccary health risks with bird flu; at the same time it is important that we do not overreact to the death of a single bird. Every year we drift further from animals; we dare not sacrifice what communion we have left with the few birds we still know, for the sake of visibly adequate, though possibly cosmetic response."

A1 UPDATE
09/04/06
Swan discovered to be non-native Whooper that died in the Baltic. Tests on all other wild birds are negative for A1.

A1 UPDATE
7/4/0//6
Tests on the native mute swan found yesterday in Fife have proved positive. 14 other wild birds are being tested. Birds within a 3km zone are to be kept undercover ?where practicable?. What does Defra mean by ?practicable?? For free range organic birds, netting, as cover, is acceptable. The Soil Association is asking for vaccination as an immunity barrier to be the next step.

Word from Toddy Hamilton-Guild, Secretary of the Scots Dumpy Club and a keen supporter of vaccination is that ?one of the most significant flocks of Dumpies is within the 10km restriction zone?. Dumpies are a rare breed in need of conservation.

A wild bird surveillance zone has been set up. Any single dead duck, goose or swan, or grouips of other dead birds should be reported to Defra on 08459 335577.

AVIAN FLU UPDATE
6/4/06
The badly decomposed body of a swan was discovered in the harbour at Cellardyke in Eastern Scotland on the 29th March. Further tests will determine today whether the swan had H5N1.

A 3km protection zone and a 10km surveillance zone have been set up. We should carry on keeping our flocks? feed and water away from wild birds, but no further action needs to take place.

We will keep you updated, but Hugh Pennington says it should not be a worry to the general public. We should wait and see, but it is unlikely to have spread into the wider bird population. It is a localized outbreak which can be snuffed out locally.

Freda Scott-Parkes, Chief Veterinary Officer says the outbreak will be controlled by containment, culling and firebreak and that vaccination is unnecessary. We could do both. Allow us to protect our birds now, so that in the event of other outbreaks we would be ready, and our birds would not have to suffer confinement.

PURE BREEDS WILL BE SAVED
27/03/06
We have had news from Victoria Roberts of the Poultry Club of Great Britain that after negotiations, Defra will probably agree that ?all pure breeds of healthy poultry including chickens, ducks, geese and turkeys will not be slaughtered near to an avian influenza infected premises, as long as biosecurity is good and the birds are housed?.

Defra considers that any Standardised breed {ie from the British Poultry Standards Book} is a pure or rare breed. So therefore most of our backyard birds would be derogated. We wait to read the small print, but nonetheless, congratulate the PCGB for their success in persuading Defra that our birds are worth saving.

Vaccination remains the solution to protect our flocks and their quality of life as free rangers. Poultry Club members are mostly breeders and exhibitors who would probably keep their birds under cover anyway. Our birds are pets, not agricultural animals.

THE DUTCH VACCINATION PLAN
14/03/06
The Henkeepers? Association is keeping a close eye on the progress of vaccination strategy for hobby birds and free range laying hens in Holland, approved by the EU in February. The Dutch culled 48 million birds during an avian flu outbreak in 2003.

There are between 1-3 million birds held in private hands ? it seems the authorities have a similar grasp to Defra of numbers involved ? and vaccination will be provided on a voluntary basis, as an alternative to the requirement to keeping these birds inside. All bio-security measures, including feeding under cover, monitoring and testing will have to be applied, and records will have to be kept.

Vaccinated birds can only be moved to other vaccinated poultry holdings, so we are unlikely to get much support from breeders? organizations and their products cannot be marketed.

Our correspondent in Holland is struggling keeping her birds undercover until the vet?s visit. Heavy snow has played havoc with ad hoc overhead bird-proof netting. The cost seems to be about ?70.00 per visit for the entire flocks? treatment, but she feels these prices may rise because there is a panic and organization, at this stage, is floundering. The two-part vaccination needs to be carried out in quiet, stress-free conditions, otherwise there can be detrimental health consequences.

With luck, we could have a bit longer that the Dutch to plan such a strategy, but this will never happen if Defra won?t even consider vaccination of our poultry. Lobby your MP and write to Defra at Nobel House, 17 Smith Square, London SW1P 3JR. Every voice should count.

VACCINE FACTS
from Intervet manufacturers of the only vaccine licensed for use in the UK as reported in Poultry World Magazine

Why use a vaccine from H5N2 when it is H5N1 that is causing the problem?
*The H5N2 vaccine is closely related to the N1 strain so that it induces protection, but allows differentiation between vaccinated and infected birds

How quickly will birds be protected?
*Protection starts 1-2 weeks post vaccination. After three weeks, there is significant protection that peaks at about five weeks. Re-vaccinating 4-6 weeks will extend protection to one year.

Are there any vaccination methods other than injection?
*Vaccines currently used are inactivated, which means the virus is not live and to get a good response it should be injected. Mass vaccination via drinking water will require new types of vaccine which are still in early stages of development.

How can vets differentiate between infected and vaccinated birds?
*Because the vaccine is based on H5N2, vaccinated birds get extra antibodies which infected birds don?t get. These can be monitored with a number of standard methods by taking blood tests.

Does vaccination mask infections?
*No. Vaccinated birds may become infected and a minority will excrete a limited amount of virus. However this is too small to infect other birds. In Hong Kong, vaccinated birds no longer transmitted the virus and did not turn into carriers.

PROS AND CONS OF VACCINATION
from Poultry World Magazine ? the commercial poultry industry?s mouthpiece.
For
*Can prevent disease and avoid the collapse of the poultry industry
*Reduces viral load and the likelihood of transmission
*Can distinguish between vaccinated and infected birds

Against
*Doesn?t encourage farmers to improve disease control
*Prevents symptoms, but doesn?t fully prevent virus shedding
*Can affect trade
*Birds have to injected individually twice.

Comment from the Henkeepers? Association
We believe that the pros are overwhelming and in our opinion the cons are not relevant to hobby keepers like ourselves. We are confident that virus shedding has been proved to be of such miniscule amounts as to be irrelevant.

STATEMENT FROM THE BRITISH VETENARY ASSOCIATION
Summary
? We do not support vaccination of domestic poultry before avian influenza is identified in
the UK
? Early detection, isolation and eradication is the best approach to controlling the spread
of this disease
? Poultry owners should be making efforts to protect their flocks by preventing contact
between poultry and wild birds and their droppings by:
o Increasing biosecurity measures
o Keeping domestic birds away from lakes and waterways
o Feeding and watering domestic poultry indoors
o Preparing to house free-range birds within 24 hours should Government
demand it.
The British Veterinary Association recommends the use of Vaccination under the following circumstances:

* Vaccinating high risk birds, from zoos or private bird collections which cannot be moved indoors for welfare reasons.
* Where there is a high risk of spread of the highly pathogenic virus in the UK
* As preventative vaccination in high risk areas where it is felt impossible to maintain adequate separation of domestic flocks from high density of wild birds suspected of carrying A1 based on a risk assessment
* As emergency vaccine as a disease control option where control has failed to contain spread, or for high risk groups in the near vicinity
* If the level of culling as a control method has reached such a level as to be unjustifiable on ethical or welfare grounds
* If the disease becomes endemic in the UK and persists at high levels in the wild bird population
* Where the welfare of birds is considered to be severely compromised; eg free range flocks required to be housed indoors for long periods.

To view the full BVA policy:www.bva.co.uk/policy/issues/A1_vaccination_statement.pdf

LETTER TO MARGARET BECKETT28/02/06
In the light of recent developments in Holland and the comments of Professor Sir David King, the Henkeepers? Association would encourage Defra to allow vaccination of poultry as part of the fight against avian flu.

The Dutch multi-pronged attack including vaccination of free range and poultry ?held in private hands? is based on valuable experience of widespread avian flu during 2003. Surely we can learn from their experiences.

David King?s prediction that we are likely to suffer the disease for five years plus, begs the question: does Defra intend to eradicate all poultry over that period?

Up to 250,000 private henkeepers keep birds in their gardens. They are not transported around the country, seldom sold or exhibited, and cannot fly. They are rarely killed for food and cannot practicably be kept under cover in humane conditions.

We urge Defra to take our views into account when formulating future policy.

EU GIVES PERMISSION 23/02/06
The EU has allowed France to vaccinate flocks of ducks and geese, and The Dutch can vaccinate freerange birds and those in ?private hands?. Our correspondent reminds us that vaccination will now become compulsory.

DEFRA ORDERS VACCINE
Organic groups have criticized Defra for not stockpiling vaccine. Until yesterday there were reported to be no stocks, but today small amounts have been ordered for zoos and endangered breeds. The Henkeepers? Association are trying to discover which breeds are derogated and would fall into this category.

PERMISSION TO VACCINATE 22/2/06
The Independent reports that French and Dutch Agriculture Ministers are applying for permission to vaccinate all poultry as an alternative to keeping flocks under cover. There seems to be sufficient consensus amongst veterinary bodies within the EU to approve this request, and worries about potential damage to the poultry trade as a result of vaccination have been overridden - vaccination affects export sales by removing the disease-free status of a country.

Representatives of organic groups have attacked the British Government for ?dereliction of duty for not stockpiling vaccine for birds in this country.? Ministers here say they don?t favour pre-emptive vaccination, and Intervet, the Dutch vaccine manufacturers say they have received no orders from Defra.

We believe we should take our lead from Holland. The Dutch poultry industry experienced an outbreak of avian flu in 2003. It was dealt with by culling and keeping birds undercover. This time round they have applied for permission to vaccinate their free range flocks as a preventative measure. Shouldn?t Defra be planning to do the same? The Independent says the cost of vaccination in the UK would be around ?10m.

MINISTER SPEAKS 20/2/06
Animal health minister Ben Bradshaw insists that an avian flu outbreak in Britain is not inevitable, and that at this moment, poultry do not have to brought undercover. Defra spokesman says mass vaccination remains one option for control. ?It is a part of our contingency planning, but would be dealt with on a case-by-case basis.?

PARLIAMENTARY QUESTIONS
Written parliamentary questions about vaccination were put to Ben Bradshaw by Bill Wiggin Shadow Minister for Agriculture on behalf of The Henkeepers? Association:
Answer to question 324
6/2/06
?Currently available vaccines do not make vaccination effective or efficient as disease control measure in the UK, although vaccines are able to reduce mortality, it is likely that some vaccinated birds would still be capable of transmitting the disease if affected. However, as part of our readiness for a disease outbreak, and conscious that there was no authorised vaccine available for A1, the Veterinary Medicines Directorate has recently issued a Provisional Marketing Authorisation for the Nobilis Vaccine, produced by Intervet. The use of any approved vaccine is also subject to EU legislation on the control of Avian Influenza and would have to be specifically authorised by the Chief Vet. We are continuing to work closely with vaccine manufacturers to assess information on other vaccines.?

Answer to question 324
6/2/06
?We are engaging closely with a wide range of stakeholders on this issue. There is a broad consensus that preventative vaccination does not currently provide an efficient means of controlling avian influenza. Good bio-security followed by housing of birds is the best response to heightened threat. There is a minority view that preventative vaccine for birds of high genetic value, birds in zoos and free range birds in areas of high risk should be considered as part of the overall control strategy.
There is also an acceptance that emergency vaccination could be considered during an outbreak. This could form part of a wider disease control strategy but would depend on the efficacy of vaccines available. We will continue to involve stakeholders in our consideration of these issues.
?

The Henkeepers? Association has written to all the Ministers at Defra urging them to re-consider small-scale keepers as a special case. We have also asked to be part of the relevant stakeholders? group.
EMINENT VIROLOGIST FAVOURS VACCINATION
Dr John Oxford of St Mary?s School of Medicine believes ?We should consider vaccination.? BBC News 24 18/2/06.

FROM OUR CORRESPONDANT IN HOLLAND
?The dead swans found here were not infected. Our minister will propose to the EU next Monday to allow vaccination, organic farmers especially are in favour as they remember vividly the horrific scenes of destruction here in 2003. Our birds are to be kept in from Monday professional and hobby keepers alike. Some organizations do not agree at all and have openly threatened to keep their birds free. They urge the authorities to allow us to vaccinate. If it is allowed, apparently it needs two rounds of vaccine, after which birds have to be kept in for three weeks and kept available for tests. They can?t be traded or butchered. Costs for hobby keepers will be approx 70 pounds sterling per flock ? irregardless of numbers.
I have started to round up my bantam Wyandotte hens and chicks and keep them in their run, but they?ll miss their garden. My goose will have to be put in too, though how one does that to a goose?..
Will keep you posted and hope this dreadful business doesn?t reach you.
?

DEVELOPMENT OF NEW VACCINE IN USA
From the Times 2/2/06
Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh have genetically engineered an avian flu vaccine from live virus that can be quickly produced and may be more immune activating. Professor Gambotto said ?The results of this animal trial are very promising, not only because our vaccine completely protected animals, but also because we found that one form of the vaccine stimulates several lines of immunity against H5N1."

NEW VACCINE
Practical Poultry Magazine March reports that Intervet UK has received official marketing authorization for its avian influenza vaccine -Nobilis Influenza - for chickens, ducks and other avian species against the H5 strain of the disease. It will only be available from vets under conditions specified by EU legislation on the control of avian influenza. Contact your MEP on www.europarl.org.uk and lobby him/her about your views.

REGISTRATION
Defra is urging all those who keep more than 50 birds to register. This does not apply to ?premises where all the poultry and their eggs are kept by their owners for their own consumption, or as pets.'

THE HENKEEPERS'ASSOCIATION WEBSITE IS SPONSORED BY THE KITCHEN GARDEN www.kitchen-garden-hens.co.uk

 
While all efforts are made to check out reported information, the Henkeepers’ Association
cannot be held responsible for advice which later proves to be incorrect.