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Br Poult Sci. 2012;53(4):421-30. doi: 10.1080/00071668.2012.707309.

Backyard chicken keeping in the Greater London Urban Area: welfare status, biosecurity and disease control issues.

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The Royal Veterinary College, University of London, Hatfield, AL9 7TA, UK.


1. The aim of the study was to collect baseline data on welfare, biosecurity and diseases of backyard chickens kept in the Greater London Urban Area (GLUA), United Kingdom (UK). 2. A total of 65 backyard chicken flock-keepers were recruited from May to July 2010 through adverts on websites, at City farms, veterinary practices and pet feed stores and surveyed by means of a questionnaire. A total of 30 responses were suitable for analysis. 3. Information on keepers' and flocks' characteristics, housing and husbandry practices and owners' knowledge of health problems in chickens and zoonotic diseases was collected. A welfare assessment protocol was developed and the flocks assessed accordingly. 4. Results showed that chickens were generally provided with living conditions that allowed them to perform their natural behaviours. 5. Most of the flock owners did not comply with the regulations of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) on the feeding of catering waste. 6. Disease prevention measures such as vaccination and biosecurity, including limiting the access of human visitors, wild birds and rodents to the flocks were rare. 7. A lack of avian and zoonotic disease knowledge and awareness among the owners has implications for disease control and highlights the need for improved communication between owners, authorities and veterinarians.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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