An organic egg farm in England has set up a novel method of protecting its hens from bird flu allowing them to stay outdoors.
Orchard Eggs based in West Sussex is using the latest laser technology from a Dutch company to scare off wild migratory birds and prevent them mixing with the farm’s chickens.
The British government recently extended the avian influenza prevention zone to April 2017, and raised the biosecurity requirements that poultry farmers must adhere to if they want to keep their birds outdoors.
Dutch couple Karen and Daniel Hoeberichts, who own Orchard Eggs, allow their hens to roam freely around 50 acres of orchards and have access to moveable houses within the grounds when they need it.
According to the developers, the principle of repelling birds with a laser beam is inspired by nature.
The birds think the approaching laser beam is a physical object and it scares them away.
“Once we heard about the Agrilaser Autonomic, it seemed like an ideal solution to complement all of our other biosecurity measures,” said Daniel Hoeberichts.
He said the automated laser repels unwanted birds without causing harm to the wild birds, the chickens or the surrounding environment.
The system has been developed by the Dutch company Bird Control Group in co-operation with the Technical University of Delft in the Netherlands.
The laser is silent and shows effectiveness of 90 to 100 percent in bird dispersal at farms, which the company says makes it a viable alternative to the expensive method of installing nets around poultry farms.
Dan England, director of distributors PestFix, said the avian influenza in Holland and the United Kingdom in December 2016 has stressed poultry and egg producers.
“The advent of new APHA (Animal & Plant Health Authority) protocol allows free range birds outdoors if they can be kept segregated from wild birds. With this rule, the laser technology for bird dispersal comes into its own. Because they are domesticated, the hens are unaffected by the laser.”
The U.K. set up the prevention zone from Dec. 6, 2016, which required that all poultry and captive bird keepers use heightened biosecurity, which included keeping their birds indoors if possible or otherwise separating domestic birds from wild birds.
This zone remains in force until at least the end of April 2017.