Defra Lifts Avian Influenza Prevention Zone Across England

It is strongly recommended that all keepers – whether they have commercial flocks or a few birds in their back garden – continue to follow good practice on biosecurity despite the Prevention Zone being lifted – to reduce the risk of infection, including minimising movement in and out of bird enclosures, cleaning footwear, keeping areas where birds live clean and tidy and feeding birds inside.

All disease control measures are kept under review based on the latest scientific evidence and veterinary advice. Poultry gatherings across England can now go ahead, subject to some additional identity and health checks and biosecurity measures, now that the Prevention Zone has been lifted.

Defra Lisfts Prevention Zone - Rhode Island Red
Rhode Island Red

If your birds are housed it is especially important to  Continue reading “Defra Lifts Avian Influenza Prevention Zone Across England”

Amanda’s Beekeeping Notes – Caring For Bees In Hot Weather

Bee on Thalictrum flafum
Bee on Thalictrum Flafum

Planting for Bees
In late June I went to RHS Wisley on a sunny day. Salvias and Nepeta were very popular with the bees for nectar and I came home with two varieties from the plant shop, which had the most bees on. Lots of bees were collecting pollen from the yellow pompoms of Thalictrum flavum;  Meadow Rue so it looks like I shall have to locate a plant or seed of that too. Of course, the ‘drifts’ at Wisley are spectacular but my pots look good on my patio.
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Ian’s Gardening Tales From The Weald – Butterflies and Nectar Plants

Ian is a Gardens Manager living in Crowhurst, working as part of a team in three large country gardens in the Sussex and Kent Weald, where he is passionate about natural gardening.

I always enjoy July in the gardens as by now we can enjoy & savour the life all around us.

Painted Lady Butterfly
Painted Lady Butterfly

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This Month’s Pest Feature – The Feral Pigeon

Graham Burgess provides a local pest control service, including Bees, Wasps, Mice, Rabbits, Mink, Moles, Rats, Earwigs and Birds. This month he has written a feature on Feral Pigeons.

Feral Pigeon
The Feral Pigeon

Feral Pigeons originate from cliff nesting Rock Doves so now they look upon all types of buildings as nothing more than a fancy cliff. They require little nesting
material sometimes only a pile of droppings with just a few twigs. They will start laying in early spring and usually produce 2 eggs 4 times a season.

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Summer Shows, Competition Results, Golden Quail, Home Farmer Article

The year is rushing along quickly, our main Spring / Summer shows are now behind us, the weather has been kind and we all had great fun. Thanks to all those who came along to say hello. As usual it is good to see both new and familiar faces at the shows. At the end of the South of England show we even managed to get us all together for a team photo – looking a little hot and tired after a long weekend, but it was a nice chance to all be in the same place at the same time – something that doesn’t happen often when we are juggling the shop, animals and shows, so many thanks to all the guys for their hard work, we couldn’t do it without them!

The Mantel Farm Team at the South of England summer shows 2017
The Mantel Farm Team – Click the image to see more pictures of us at the 2017 South of England show

This year we ran 2 competitions at the show to celebrate the South of England’s 50th Anniversary. A “guess the number of golden eggs” competition and a “guess the weight of honey” competition at this summer shows.

Continue reading “Summer Shows, Competition Results, Golden Quail, Home Farmer Article”

Defra To Lift Restrictions In England – Poultry Keeping

After months of imposed restrictions by Defra due to the avian influenza it looks as though these are to be lifted as of Monday the 15th of May.

Defra update - Chickens Allowed Outside
Chickens allowed outside

Defra has published the following statement on their news page: “Based on the latest risk assessment, the Chief Vet has confirmed that we expect to lift the existing Avian Influenza Prevention Zone on 15 May 2017 and replace it with a new Prevention Zone that will apply only to certain areas of Lancashire, Cumbria and Merseyside. After that date, keepers within the new Prevention Zone covering the districts of Barrow-in-Furness, South Lakeland, Lancaster, Blackpool, Wyre, Fylde, Preston, Sefton, West Lancashire, South Ribble and Chorley will still be required by law to follow specific disease prevention measures to reduce the risk of infection from wild birds; keepers outside the new Prevention Zone should continue to follow industry best practice on biosecurity.” Continue reading “Defra To Lift Restrictions In England – Poultry Keeping”

Chickens Free Range – Defra Update: Removal Of Housing Requirement In Higher Risk Areas

After many months of patient vigilance, chicken keepers and other poultry keepers everywhere can breathe a little more easily today. It has been announced by Defra that as of Thursday 13th April 2017, all poultry inside the “Higher Risk Areas of England” can once again be allowed outside to roam – chickens free range as nature intended. There remains the need for strict biosecurity measures to be in force, and all poultry gatherings are still banned until further notice, but with fingers (and wings) crossed the scare we have all had since December 2016 is coming to an end.

Our chickens free range, they're so happy to be allowed outside again following the Defra restrictions being lifted.
Our chickens allowed outside again

Continue reading “Chickens Free Range – Defra Update: Removal Of Housing Requirement In Higher Risk Areas”

Poultry Keeping – Looking Ahead to Spring

I really can’t believe it’s March already! With the spring equinox only a few days ahead of us on the 20th of March, it seems as though this year is just flying past.

Spring: Daffodils at Mantel Farm
Spring: Daffodils at Mantel Farm

Here on the farm I’ve been seeing so many signs of spring: Daffodils springing up; our peacock has been proudly showing off his newly grown tail feathers and his hen has come back into lay; our Chamois hens have come back into lay along with many others such as our Brahma, and our bees are out flying and returning with pollen from various sources.

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Poultry Keeping – Defra Update: What It Means For You

We have all been waiting for the news that it is OK to let our hens free range, and its great news that from the 28th February Defra have lifted the general prevention zone measures across the country, however strict bio-security measures still need to be maintained and there are still localised high risk zones where poultry and captive birds must remain housed away from wild birds.  Such areas close to us are the Pevensey Levels and Rye Marshes, where the risk from wild/migratory birds is still considered higher.

Defra Update Map of restricted areas
Defra Update: Map of restricted areas

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Poultry Keeping – Egg Laying During The Winter Months

It’s absolutly crazy to think that we’re already into the second month of 2017, but time ‘flies’ when you’re keeping chickens! Okay… Enough of the bad puns. Though, the lack of daylight and cold weather can really affect their egg laying.

Free Range Eggs For Sale At Mantel Farm
Free Range Eggs For Sale At Mantel Farm

I’ve definitely noticed the evenings staying lighter for longer and so have my girls. I believe that they noticed the change in the day length very shortly after the shortest day (December 21st) as I started getting eggs again just a few days after. This makes total sense given that they spend plenty of time exposed to daylight so they’re able to have a well calibrated circadian rhythm. It was ever so exciting to collect that first egg after months of none at all.

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Poultry Keeping – Cold Weather, Food and Water

Cold weather can be a problem for our birds: we’ve had some very hard frosts over the past few weeks – it even snowed!

Cold Weather for Poultry Keeping
Cold Weather for Poultry Keeping

Its worth bearing in mind that if daytime temperatures stay below freezing then large combed birds or birds with large wattles can get a touch of frostbite and this is most uncomfortable. The most noticeable symptom of this is darkened /black areas on the comb or wattle. One of the preventative measures, other than keeping them inside (something that you may already be doing due to the Avian Influenza), is to apply a small amount of petroleum jelly to the comb or wattle. Continue reading “Poultry Keeping – Cold Weather, Food and Water”

Chicken Health Advice – DEFRA Updates

Unfortunately this chicken keeping year has gotten off to a bad start with the outbreak of Avian Influenza (bird flu). DEFRA has extended the prevention zone measures until the 28th of February 2017. In light of this, please follow their chicken health advice. I’m sure I don’t need to preach to you the importance of keeping your birds inside if possible or under netting to prevent wild birds getting too close to your flock. I’m also sure that you’re keeping feeders and drinkers inside or under shelter to stop wild birds defecating in them.

For the latest updates visit –

Biolink Bi-OO-cyst DEFRA approved for chicken health advice
Biolink Bi-OO-Cyst 1 Litre Bottle – £16.00

Second to all of this is keeping everything disinfected. It is a good habit and good practice to disinfect wellies before entering your run and, if big enough, your chicken house. Continue reading “Chicken Health Advice – DEFRA Updates”

Poultry Keeping – Josh’s Introduction

Josh holds a bantam and tells us about his poultry keeping adventures
Josh holding a bantam

Living in a residential area, it used to be pretty uncommon to have a flock of birds in your back garden; however, my parents decided, being that they were very much into self-sufficiency at the time, to begin their poultry keeping adventures by getting six point of lay chickens. I was only young at the time, but I have fond memories of collecting the eggs and listening to their relaxing chatter. I can still remember my excitement at hearing the vociferous clucking of the hens as they laid their eggs each day. Their house was a good distance from our house, but it could still be heard clearly at the bottom of the garden. Continue reading “Poultry Keeping – Josh’s Introduction”