On Monday morning we found some of our chickens dead in their coop. Others looked sick.

Upset, panicked and concerned, I phoned my vet. They told me to call DEFRA and report it. Terrifying.

The vet on the phone at DEFRA was very helpful. After asking an awful lot of questions, he sent field vets out immediately.

I was really worried. What if I had bird flu? What if I’ve caused this and they say I can’t keep animals anymore (complete overreaction I know!), what if they take all of my girls away? My mind was whirring with all sorts of worry. When the DEFRA vets turned up and started putting their space suits on I didn’t feel any calmer!

They were here for hours. They did full autopsies on the dead chickens. They did visual and medical checks on the sick ones. Throughout this time, they were really friendly, kind and incredibly patient, answering all my silly panicked questions.

Thankfully, it wasn’t bird flu. It’s mycoplasma. Possibly brought in by my new chickens. The remaining chickens are being treated by my vet and should recover.

The idea of having to deal with DEFRA is terrifying. It’s serious and means trouble. Or at least that’s what I’d thought before I’d ever dealt with them.

In reality, they were helpful and kind and reacted so swiftly and professionally that they could really teach our NHS a few things!! If I had to contact them again in the future, I wouldn’t be so worried. It turns out that they’re one of the good guys.

As for my girls, it’s still early days in treatment, but I have all of my fingers and toes crossed that they’ll make a full and speedy recovery.

If you need any information on bird flu, visit https://www.gov.uk/guidance/avian-influenza-bird-flu

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