The importance of enclosures
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CTA. 2006. The importance of enclosures. Rural Radio Resource Pack 06/3. Wageningen, The Netherlands: CTA.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/57361
How to keep enclosed birds free of disease, and practical advice on construction of enclosures for poultry.
The importance of enclosures Cue: The H5N1 avian flu virus is not the first kind of avian flu to affect poultry flocks, either in Africa or other parts of the world. However, this particular strain of the virus is especially dangerous, because as well as affecting birds, it can also be passed to humans, and is often fatal. Once an outbreak occurs, the most effective way of preventing it from spreading is, currently, by destroying affected birds and preventing transfer of the virus outside the outbreak area. However this is an expensive and labour-intensive process. It is therefore much better to invest in protecting poultry flocks so that they are less like to catch the virus, than try to deal with outbreaks when they occur. So how can poultry, flocks be protected? For some diseases such as Newcastle disease, vaccinations are available. However, with avian flu the effectiveness of vaccines is less clear, and most countries are not adopting vaccination as a control strategy. Instead, poultry keepers are being advised to protect their flocks by housing their birds in some kind of enclosure or cage, and taking precautions to ensure that all food and water are disease-free. Dorothy Tumbo lives in Bulawayo in Zimbabwe, and keeps chickens in an enclosure, called a fowl run, in her backyard. She spoke to Sylvia Jiyane about how this helps to protect her birds, and began by explaining how, on one occasion when some of her birds got sick, she took them to a local veterinary clinic. The vets feared they might have a form of avian flu, although not the H5N1 strain, which has not yet occurred in Zimbabwe. IN: ?At one time I had about 50?? OUT: ??more if they are infected.? DUR?N: 6?51? BACK ANNOUNCEMENT: Celia Abolnik, a senior research assistant from a veterinary institute in South Africa, was talking to Lucas Moloi. Earlier we heard Sylvia Jiyane interviewing urban poultry keeper Dorothy Tumbo. The interviews come from a radio resource pack on avian flu produced by CTA. Transcript Tumbo At one time I had about 50 that I had taken, and over 30 actually died because of avian flu. What actually happened is that the other person, who was about five houses away from where I was, had their chickens actually dying. And then mine also started dying and when we took our chicks to the vet, that was when we were told there was an outbreak of a disease actually around our area. They thought it was avian flu, and they also suspected it could be Newcastle, but we left them with the chicks so they could actually test. These guys, the people from the vet, also encouraged us to clean our fowl runs. If one group of poultry is ready for market you remove it, then you have to clean your fowl run and spray it with chemicals before you put a new batch of poultry into the fowl run. You find that if you keep on doing that you find that cleaning, you have to be clean, you have to spray your fowl runs, and you have to make sure that the water and all the vaccines are given to the poultry, and also make sure that the eating utensils are clean, and there is a clean supply of water. That way you eliminate the diseases, but if you are not very careful then you will see that the chicks or the poultry will actually start to just die and if you don?t realise it at the end of the day you won?t have anything left, because all of them will be attacked by the diseases. Jiyane That brings us to the point of access to the poultry house. In your own experience, maybe at your house, who normally accesses the poultry enclosure? Tumbo Actually I have got one person who is managing that, sort of a worker, a woman I employed, and she?s the one who is actually feeding those chickens. You look at the number of chickens you are having, and then you have to make sure that you have enough feeding trays that will cover, so that at least you don?t keep on going into the fowl run now and again to replace the feed that will be finished. What you have to do, you have to look at them well measured, to say that at least if I?ve got these big, five or six big containers, and if I put in the morning, it means the next time I will put the feed will be in the evening, so that at least you limit the number of going in and out to about twice a day only, and with only one person going in to replace the water the feed, and everything. So you have to have feeding trays and water points which are almost enough to last a full day, or about 12 hours, before you go in there. Jiyane And besides the risks of diseases, like we have mentioned avian flu, Newcastle and other diseases, what could be the other risks of keeping poultry in the backyard? Tumbo Yes the other risks, especially in urban areas is there are a lot of thieves, and if people realise that there is poultry that is being kept there, they would want to come and actually steal them when they are almost ready. So you fowl run has to be quite strong, and if possible put some burglar bars, and also make sure that it is always under lock and key so that people don?t access your chickens. Otherwise, besides the thieves the other risk is mainly that one we have talked about of diseases. Because if all those are eliminated it is quite a viable business which can actually generate a lot of income for people. Jiyane And finally, Dorothy, in the event of a disease outbreak in poultry enclosures, what are the practical steps that one should take to prevent the disease from spreading? Tumbo If you have noticed that, especially maybe the first thing you have to see is maybe you can see one animal dropping dead, and then you see another maybe showing signs that it is not well. What you have to do is you have to remove them, actually isolate them, remove those birds that you see are not well. Remove them and put them somewhere away and actually observe. If it keeps on going then you have to seek advice from other people, like what I said in the beginning that we ended up taking the birds to the vet, so that at least they can test to see what it was that was affecting the chickens. NARR While keeping backyard poultry in enclosures may be possible for urban poultry keepers like Dorothy, what about for those in villages, whose chickens normally scavenge for food around the homesteads? Should they also be kept in an enclosure? In areas where the risk of avian flu is high ? for example because of the presence of migratory birds ? keeping all poultry in some kind of house or enclosure is definitely recommended. To find out more about how, and why this should be done, Lucas Moloi spoke to Celia Abolnik, a senior research assistant at the Arc-Onderstepport Veterinary Institute in Pretoria, South Africa. Moloi In areas affected by the avian flu, what are the advantages of keeping poultry in fenced enclosures? Abolnik Obviously if your birds are fenced they are separated from birds that are free ranging that might be carrying infectious diseases. In the ideal situation you would want an enclosed structure, but the best thing to do is not to leave open food and water that will attract wild birds into contact with chickens. So the sharing of food and water is probably the major way in which wild birds, or free ranging birds are encouraged into contact with poultry. Moloi So is there a particular material and design to construct a safe enclosure? Abolnik It must be bird proof, it must be rat proof. The water must be, and the feed must be separated from any contact with birds and rodents from outside. Moloi Some poultry keepers may not afford expensive material and design. What should they do to protect their poultry? Abolnik You could use inexpensive materials to build an enclosure that is rat and bird proof. Moloi Like? Abolnik Mud bricks, grass, sheet metal, anything that they have access to. Moloi Should there be restrictions on who to enter poultry enclosures in areas affected by the avian flu? Abolnik Definitely. A poultry owner should not allow any person just to walk into his poultry enclosure, especially since they may be carrying infected poultry or wild bird faeces on their person, their boots, their shoes, their clothes, their hands, and handling of birds might transmit the disease in that way. Moloi Is there a special diet that poultry could be fed with to reduce chances of contracting the avian flu? Abolnik There is no special diet that will prevent them getting avian flu, although the importance of good nutrition is vital, because birds that are immuno-suppressed, birds that have a very weak immune system, sometimes due to hunger, or because they are not getting all the nutrients, might be more predisposed to infections, and might suffer and die more if they are infected. End of track.