The issue of wild birds on free range broiler farms was addressed at the Avian Veterinary Poultry Association (AVPA) conference in Sydney in February.
Dr. Bruce Remington gave a presentation about the survey that was conducted on Free Range Egg and Poultry Australia Ltd (FREPA) broiler farms in southern Victoria and southeast Queensland. The number of free range broiler chickens processed each week is 620 thousand (32 million per year) compared with 2.7 million free range egg layers in production at any one time. The survey was conducted on 8 farms. The numbers of wild birds recorded as landing on the range of broiler farms was recorded although some producers reported birds flying over in close proximity to the farms. The number of birds was surprisingly low. The species most commonly recorded were willie wagtails, mynahs, magpies and swallows, pigeons (on 2 farms with fewer than 5 recorded for 1 or 2 months), ibis (1 farm, fewer than 5 for 2 weeks), parrots (1 farm, fewer than 10 for less than 1 month).
The main things that discourage the presence of wild birds on free range broiler ranges are:
- No feed on the range
- No water on the range
- No shelter on the range
- Keep grass short so that there is no seed or cover
- Fencing around the range area
- Human activity