Poultry farmers and pet bird keepers urged to prepare for winter Avian Flu threat

Posted 30th November 2018 12:37pm by

The BHWT is strongly encouraging its supporters to remain vigilant and take steps to minimise the risk of disease from migrating birds this winter.

With colder months now upon us, the risk of disease has increased and, though no avian flu outbreaks have been recorded in poultry or kept birds since June 2017, keepers should still take steps to maintain high biosecurity.

There are some simple measures that all pet hen keepers should take to protect their animals against the threat of avian influenza in the coming winter months. These include:

  • Keep the area where birds live clean and tidy, control rats and mice and regularly disinfect any hard surfaces. Clean footwear before and after visits.
  • Place birds’ feed and water in fully enclosed areas that are protected from wild birds, and remove any spilled feed regularly.
  • Put fencing around outdoor areas where birds are allowed and limit their access to ponds or areas visited by wild waterfowl.
  • Where possible, avoid keeping ducks and geese with other poultry species
  • For poultry keepers in England, Wales and Scotland, sign up to a free APHA service to receive text or email alerts to any outbreaks of bird flu in the UK. In Northern Ireland, all bird keepers are encouraged to subscribe to a free text alert service by simply texting ‘BIRDS’ to 67300.

These measures are particularly important if you are in or close to one of the GB Higher Risk Areas. You can check whether or not you are in a Higher Risk Area by using our interactive maps.

A joint statement by all four of the Chief Veterinary Officers in the UK today said:

“Avian flu continues to circulate in many parts of the world and with the colder months soon upon us the risk of disease from migrating birds is increasing. It is critical that all keepers of poultry, including game birds and pet birds, act now to reduce the risk of transmission of avian flu to their flocks.

“Good biosecurity should be maintained at all times, including regularly cleaning and disinfecting the area where you keep birds and separating them from wild birds wherever possible.”

All bird keepers across Great Britain should also register their birds on the Great Britain Poultry Register (GBPR). If you have 50 or more birds, this is a legal requirement, though we would strongly encourage all pet hen keepers with fewer than 50 birds to register. The BHWT has been working in collaboration with Defra and Scottish and Welsh governments to simplify and speed up the registration process.

In Northern Ireland it is a legal requirement for all bird keepers to register every bird on the DAERA Bird Register, other than pet birds kept in the owner’s home.

Registering your birds means the government can contact you in the case of an outbreak and provide information on the steps to take to limit the chances of your birds getting the disease.

The Government continues to monitor for incursions of avian flu and is working with the poultry and game bird industries; hen rehoming and pure and traditional poultry breeds stakeholders to help prevent incursions.