Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Chicken enclosure

Unfortunately all chickens in the UK (and turkeys, geese, ducks, quails etc..) have had to go back into lockdown from Monday 7th November, by law, due to the ongoing avian flu epidemic. Avian flu has never really gone away this year, and has been killing wild birds all around the coast of Cornwall, including within 2 miles of the farm. Millions of farm birds have also been culled by DEFRA to try to control the disease. This is the worst outbreak to date. Farm birds were anly allowed out of their sheds/barns (or fully enclosed runs) on May 2nd, so they were outside free-ranging for only 6 months of the year.

We have not bought any new chickens this year, which we would normally do in both spring and autumn to top up our flock, so we are about 150 or 175 head down in number to what we had planned to be. Add to this the seasonal dip in egg numbers (colder weather with reduced daylight) and our eggs are in short supply. Our veg box members are now limited to only half a dozen per veg box per week, no eggs are available at our two farmers market stalls, or to restaurants, and what we have left over are going into our farm shop where they are available on a first-come-first-served basis.

We are going to see how this winter pans out and then decide in the spring what to do about this situation - do we gradually wind-down our flock and stop keeping chickens, or do we build it back up to previous numbers and learn to live with bird flu and its restrictions?

The good news, though, is that we spent all yesterday creating the best-ever run for our chickens, fully enclosed with netting over the top, so they can come out of their sheds into a small area of outdoor grass.

Many thanks to all our volunteers who helped us with this yesterday - you might have got soaked to the skin but you did make 240 chickens very happy! - Warren, Rob, local Ben, wwoofer Ben, Jez, Mick, Yerin, Jihu, and Dan. Special thanks go to our almost-vintage tractor which huffed and puffed but eventually managed to get all three sheds down the field into position...

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