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Facilities

Due to logistical constraints, not everyone wishing to care for sick/injured swans will be able to maintain an exhaustive hospital “set up”. However, such constraints should be recognised by any potential carers and the following suggested standards should be met and adhered to, whatever scale of any individual unit.

Indoor and outdoor holding facilities should be available to carers at all times, each being used whenever appropriate to the casualty bird concerned. Any bird fit enough to be in an outdoor enclosure will require enough room not to feel constricted and have the opportunity to behave as “normally” as possible. Access to water is vital. A swan that cannot bathe will soon become depressed. All areas should be able to be sterilised if necessary.

Remember that some birds will be a bit unsteady even on level ground. If swans have to struggle and flap to exit a drained pond, they may well damage wings and/or rip out claws.

Swans like all water fowl are “messy’ birds, and it is vital that good drainage and cleansing facilities are installed. An adequate supply of fresh water should be available for all filling and cleansing requirements, and should include a stand pipe and hose, that provides a good water pressure.

Do not use hay for bedding, as this is often very dusty and can aggravate any respiratory problems.

If the site is fox and dog proof, the enclosure need only have a perimeter fence some 1mtr in height, as the birds will not ordinarily be able to fly out of such a confined space. Although Whoopers and Bewicks can be a bit more “flighty” than the Mutes can. Obviously any fencing should be safe and kept in good condition. Do not use mesh large enough for birds {especially curious cygnets) to get their heads through. In addition, NEVER top fences with barbed wire or other such materials.

Outdoor “hospital” enclosures or pens as described above should be surfaced with concrete throughout, and if slabs are used, then the gaps between should be “pointed”. There are a lot of misconceptions relating to the surface that water birds require to walk on. Much of the literature available will dissuade the use of concrete and cement, but grass and soil paddocks are impossible to clean and sterilise, and good hospital practice will eliminate any predisposition to “bumble foot” or other staphylococci infections.

The enclosure should be cleaned of droppings and spilled food and hosed down at least once daily. Between patients, the whole of the enclosure and pond areas should receive thorough cleaning and disinfecting; remembering to rinse completely before refilling the pond.

Indoor holding facilities should not be cramped or claustrophobic, and must not be draughty. The building or room should be described as “sound and secure”, and must be capable of maintaining an ambient climate in relation to heating and ventilation; summer or winter.