Many people often ask me what they can do in order to protect their birds from Avian Influenza.
The first thing I recommend is to focus on where you obtain your birds. Ideally you would want to use a local reputable game farm with high biosecurity for the best start.
Next, limit the number of people that come into contact with the birds to minimise the possibility of bringing in any disease on their boots. Plus it's worth checking whether any of your team keep chickens at home - another source of infection!
Pen biosecurity is essential. Preferably you should invest in boot dips, only use Defra approved disinfectant such as FAM30, and change it at least once a week. A covered boot dip with brushes is the best option as they remove the muck from the boot treads and the cover stops the disinfectant from breaking down and getting contaminated from windblown debris. Ensure all your visitors actually use it - even guns, beaters and picker-ups - whenever they enter your site.
Other essential biosecurity includes having a clean water system with probably an organic acid in the water which kill pathogens. I recommend using a nipple system as this stops most cross contamination between pheasants and certainly any contamination from wild birds.
Consider feeders that incorporate a tray to stop waste food from laying on the floor. This is a big 'no no' when it comes to disease prevention because of the higher stocking density normally associated with release pens than birds out in game strips.
Finally, you may wish to protect yourself financially by including a clause in your terms and conditions if you need to cancel from being placed in a restricted area, and for your guns to obtain cancellation insurance.
Until next time - Stay Ahead of the Game!