New housing measures to help protect poultry and captive birds from Avian Influenza (AI) have been issued by the Chief Veterinary Officers for England, Scotland and Wales.
From Friday December 14, all bird keepers will be legally required to keep their birds indoors and follow strict biosecurity measures to limit the spread of and eradicate the disease.
The measures build on the strengthened biosecurity regulations brought in as part of the Avian Influenza Protection Zone (AIPZ) on November 11, following several confirmed outbreaks in wild and captive birds across the UK.
In a joint statement, the officers said: “Whether you keep just a few birds or thousands, from December 14 onwards you will be legally required to keep your birds indoors, or take appropriate steps to keep them separate from wild birds.
“We have not taken this decision lightly, but it is the best way to protect your birds from this highly infectious disease.”
With 11 days to prepare for the measures, bird keepers have been encouraged by officials to take steps to safeguard animal welfare, seek veterinary advice and where possible, put up additional housing.
NFU chief poultry adviser, Aimee Mahony, added the notice allowed poultry producers to prepare and implement the new measures to the best of their ability and urged everyone to ‘take these measures seriously’.
“It is crucial that everyone remains vigilant and reports any signs of disease in their birds at the earliest opportunity,” she said.
Government will keep the new housing measures under regular review as part of their work to protect flocks.
Bird keepers have been advised by Defra to be vigilant for any signs of diseases in their birds and seek veterinary advice.
They can also help prevent AI by maintaining good biosecurity on their premises, including: