Avian Influenza

10/12/21: AVIAN INFLUENZA REHOMING UPDATE
The multiple cases of Avian Flu in the UK are impacting across both the commercial and hobby keeper sectors.  All bird keepers are now legally obliged to keep their birds undercover and to raise their biosecurity, even in a home environment.  It is vital that wild birds and vermin are kept away from any backyard poultry or pet hens. 

There will be no further rehoming activity with effect from 12th December until the Avian Influenza situation improves. When it is safe to recommence our lifesaving rehoming work we will be up and running immediately.

For the latest Avian Influenza locations and to see if this affects you, please visit our Avian Influenza Cases and Control Zones Page or the Government interactive map.

Throughout this potentially prolonged period of restriction, we acknowledge that birds are more prone to welfare issues and we have a wealth of information and tips on our website for anyone wanting advice on how to keep their birds happy and healthy:

24/11/21: AVIAN INFLUENZA HOUSING ORDER
In light of the recent increase of Avian Influenza cases in the UK, the Chief Veterinary Officers for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have agreed to bring in new housing measures to protect poultry and captive birds from avian influenza.

From Monday 29th November, it is a legal requirement for all bird keepers across the UK to keep their birds indoors and to follow strict biosecurity measures in order to limit the spread of and eradicate the disease.

21/11/21: AVIAN INFLUENZA UPDATE
From 8.30 pm on 21 November 2021, a new avian influenza prevention zone will be declared in parts of North Yorkshire in England, namely the districts of Harrogate, Hambleton and Richmondshire. This means that it is a legal requirement for all bird keepers in that area to keep their birds indoors and to follow strict biosecurity measures in order to limit the spread of and eradicate the disease. See the AIPZ section for further information.

AVIAN INFLUENZA PREVENTION ZONE
An Avian Influenza Prevention Zone has been declared across Great Britain effective from 5pm on 3 November 2021. This means all bird keepers in Great Britain (whether they have pet birds, commercial flocks or just a few birds in a backyard flock) are required by law to take a range of biosecurity precautions.

We are all now legally bound, with immediate effect, to follow strict biosecurity measures to help protect our birds.  Our rehoming dates will be going ahead as they are not within controlled zones, but we will be implementing additional biosecurity and anyone booking hens will be made aware of these.

For the latest Avian Influenza locations and to see if this affects you, please visit our Avian Influenza Cases and Control Zones Page or the Government interactive map.

This is a timely reminder that with winter approaching it is a good idea to increase your own biosecurity. For more information visit https://www.gov.uk/guidance/avian-influenza-bird-flu

Avian influenza FAQs

Yes, from Monday the 29th of November it was a legal requirement that all bird keepers should keep their birds indoors and to follow strict biosecurity measures to limit the spread and eradicate the disease. For information on good biosecurity check out the government website.

There is no vaccine available currently.

Please refer to the list below:

*please remember that many of these symptoms can be due to other things.

• swollen head
• closed and excessively watery eyes
• lethargy and depression
• recumbency and unresponsiveness
• incoordination and loss of balance
• head and body tremoring
• drooping of the wings and/or dragging of legs
• twisting of the head and neck
• swelling and blue discolouration of comb and wattles
• haemorrhages on shanks of the legs and under the skin of the neck
• loss of appetite or marked decrease in feed consumption
• sudden increase or decrease in water consumption
• respiratory distress such as gaping (mouth breathing), nasal snicking (coughing sound), sneezing, gurgling or rattling
• fever or noticeable increase in body temperature
• discoloured or loose watery droppings
• cessation or marked reduction in egg production
• suddenly finding one or more birds dead

If you are worried call your vet or our helpline and you will be directed to your appropriate contact to report suspicions. In England to Defra Rural Services Helpline on 03000 200 301. In Wales, contact 0300 303 8268. In Scotland, contact to the local Field Services Office. Someone will come and check your birds.

You should do your best to minimise contact between wild waterfowl and your poultry; try to net ponds and don’t feed wild birds nearby.

Move any bird feeders well away from your poultry to minimise contact. Always clear up spilled feed.

Ideally yes. A simple boot dip using a plastic storage box or tray and ideally a viruscidal disinfectant will be an effective safeguard. We recommend Virkon which can be purchased in small sachets from your local country store.

Avian influenza FAQs

No, for now there is no housing order. For information on good biosecurity check out the government website.

There is no vaccine available currently.

You should do your best to minimise contact between wild waterfowl and your poultry; try to net ponds and don’t feed wild birds nearby.

Move any bird feeders well away from your poultry to minimise contact. Always clear up spilled feed.

Ideally yes. A simple boot dip using a plastic storage box or tray and ideally a viruscidal disinfectant will be an effective safeguard. We recommend Virkon which can be purchased in small sachets from your local country store.

All poultry gatherings are currently prohibited.

We have received written approval from DEFRA allowing us to continue rehoming hens. DEFRA advises that under the Avian Flu Prevention Zone rules on bird gatherings (the risk assessment is available here), we do not fall into the category that prevents us rehoming.

Whilst we are delighted we can continue saving hens from slaughter, we will only rehome to those who can assure us they can keep their hens undercover and away from wild birds. Anyone wanting to top up a current flock will need to have covered facilities and the ability to keep new birds away from any existing birds until they have had a chance to settle in.

Of course, as well as meeting careful rehoming rules, we will also continue to observe every precaution necessary to manage our rehoming events in a COVID safe way that protects our hens, volunteers, and rehomers as well as the wider egg industry, by meeting strict legal requirements for both the Avian Flu measures and the COVID-19 restrictions.

Rehoming hens

We have received written approval from DEFRA allowing us to continue rehoming hens. DEFRA advises that under the Avian Flu Prevention Zone rules on bird gatherings (the risk assessment is available here), we do not fall into the category that prevents us rehoming.

Whilst we are delighted we can continue saving hens from slaughter, we will only rehome to those who can assure us they can keep their hens undercover and away from wild birds. Anyone wanting to top up a current flock will need to have covered facilities and the ability to keep new birds away from any existing birds until they have had a chance to settle in.

Of course, as well as meeting careful rehoming rules, we will also continue to observe every precaution necessary to manage our rehoming events in a COVID safe way that protects our hens, volunteers, and rehomers as well as the wider egg industry, by meeting strict legal requirements for both the Avian Flu measures and the COVID-19 restrictions.

Inevitably the arrival of bird flu in the UK may extend the period in which we are unable to rehome hens, but we are monitoring the situation on a daily basis and assure you we will get back into action as soon as we are safely able to.

Please watch our updates.

Avian Influenza Information
Avian influenza does not have a vaccine and therefore you should be aware of what to do in the event of an outbreak in your area. Please see our advice on avian flu here or below.

Your poultry their health

Helpful guidance on keeping your hens safe in the event of a notifiable disease, such as avian influenza. It may never happen, but being forewarned makes you forearmed.

The information is to help you understand when there is a serious problem so you can take appropriate action. Disease amongst poultry can spread FAST and knowing what to do as a responsible poultry keeper is vital.

Be Flock Wise – register your hens on the Great Britain Poultry Register (GBPR)

We recommend all keepers of pet birds and flocks, small and large, register their birds on the GBPR. Click here to register.  You can also sign up online to a separate service from APHA to receive free alerts of any outbreaks of avian flu in Great Britain. This advice has been agreed by the BHWT with Defra, Scottish Government and Welsh Government.

What action should you or your vet take if you suspect avian influenza?

Contact any one of the following; they will be able to help you:

  • Your local poultry-friendly vet
  • APHA (a DEFRA department specialising in notifiable diseases) – In England contact 03000 200 301
  • In Wales, contact 0300 303 8268
  • In Scotland, contact your local Field Services Office

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