Poultry keepers have been urged to ‘take action now’ ahead of the looming winter threat of Avian Influenza.
The UK’s Chief Veterinary Officers made the call this week (October 7) on the back of what they said was an ‘increasing risk’ of disease incursion from migrating birds.
The UK has retained its World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) country freedom status since September 2017, but Defra warned bird flu remained a constant threat.
A joint statement by the four Chief Vets said: “Good robust 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 poultry keepers across the UK are urged to remain vigilant and alert the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) in Great Britain or the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) in Northern Ireland as soon as they suspect any signs of the disease.”
All bird keepers – including those with commercial flocks, backyard flocks or those rearing game birds – should register their birds on the Great Britain Poultry Register (GBPR).
For anyone with 50 birds or more, it is a legal requirement.
The sector has been urged to follow some simple measures to help curb the spread of disease, including: keeping the area where birds live clean and tidy; cleaning footwear before and after visits, and placing birds’ feed and water in fully enclosed areas that are protected from wild birds, removing any spilled feed regularly.
Defra said it continued to monitor any incursions of the disease and that it was working with the poultry and game bird industries, hen rehoming and pure and traditional poultry breeds stakeholders to prevent incursions.