At last, it appears that the housing order is coming to an end in England Scotland and Wales with measures due to be lifted on 31st March. Birds thrive when they follow the same routine every day, so changing this mid-lay can be stressful. We have listed some interventions that will help minimise the stress of ranging once again.
Products and Supplements
Consider the use of electrolytes such as Solulyte Plus a couple of days before, during and after the reintroduction to the range. Well hydrated birds are calmer and better able to cope with management changes.
For more sensitive flocks, or those who have suffered a recent challenge, multivitamins such as Multivit Plus are recommended as they help support the immune system as well as bolstering metabolic function.
There may be an effect on the birds following the opening up of the shed to the ingress of more daylight; an increase in light as well as potentially more intense light will increase bird activity, and this can sometimes go too far resulting in aggression. Therefore indoor lighting may need to be adjusted accordingly during this time.
It is not always easy to manage unwanted behaviours such as aggression. However, ensuring that the birds have access to rewarding enrichments such as grit and pecking blocks is beneficial. The new Natu-Pek blocks from Alltech are recommended for this.
Here is a Natu-Pek block after 4 weeks of use. Check with your vet that your shed(s) have the correct ratio of enrichments to birds.
Review and Monitor Flock Performance
A return to the range is a good time to assess how the flock is performing from a disease status point of view. It is also advised that you review your worming protocols with your vet as these may have altered due to the housing order. In IB vaccinated flocks, ensure birds are up to date with vaccination now they’re about to go back outside. The gold-standard approach would be to undertake some surveillance testing to ensure that the birds are protected. If you would like to introduce this please speak to your local St David’s vet who will be able to advise on this.
For some producers, the housing order may have resulted in warmer shed temperatures than usual for winter time. The red mite and fly risk are therefore higher. Now is a good time to review infestation levels, as with red mite especially, the impact they have on already stressed birds is particularly detrimental. There are a number of products available for use against red mites and flies so please speak with your local St David’s vet who will be able to discuss the options with you as well as providing application training where needed.
For any further information regarding the return to range, you can contact us by calling the office on 01392 872932, or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org