An alert over bird flu in Europe has led the Scottish Government to order all poultry in Scotland to be kept indoors for 30 days.
A few of our Crofting Connections schools that keep poultry have been telling us what they are doing to cope with the situation and what the children make of it.
Sandra MacLennan, principle teacher at Dochgarroch Primary school just outside Inverness, said her children are fully aware of the situation and coping well with it. Their hens do not have access to their wider open area and they are fed in the hutch. The pupils have a plan to create a hen ‘obstacle course’ and will be gathering materials in the local woods this week to have extra pecking and perching items to keep them from getting too bored.
Verity Branscombe, head teacher in Papa Westray primary school in Orkney is in communication with the RSPB and another conservationist who is an expert in the migratory patterns of the local bird population. The Papay hens and ducks are currently being protected from exposure to passing wild birds. The advice they have been given is that the birds migrating over Orkney are from Iceland where there is no incidence of the current strain of bird flu, H5N8. With only occasional birds passing from mainland Europe, the risk to their birds is deemed to be low.
Verity said the children are sad not to be feeding the hens and ducks outside as normal however they fully understand why and with the help of the local experts as well as Orkney education department and local and national news, if they find out that bird flu is detected in either Iceland, Orkney or Scotland, they are fully prepared for their flock to be destroyed and start again. This would be a last resort.
You can read more about the Scottish government’s guidance here.