Above: Whether running a large commercial farm, keeping a few hens in your back garden, or rearing game birds, DEFRA advise all birdkeepers to protect their birds against the threat of bird flu in the winter months. DEFRA recommends you download this poster from its website (www.gov.uk/guidance/avian-influenza-bird-flu), print it and keep it handy
THE UK GOVERNMENT’S Chief Veterinary Officers are encouraging all poultry farmers and pet bird keepers to prepare for the winter avian flu threat.
With winter approaching, there is an increased risk of disease incursion from migrating birds. All keepers of poultry, including game birds and pet birds, are advised to take action now to reduce the risk of transmission of avian flu to their flocks by following the below measures set out by DEFRA:
● 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.
A joint statement by the four Chief Veterinary Officers in the UK, published on October 7, reads: “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 APHA in Great Britain or DAERA in Northern Ireland as soon as they suspect any signs of the disease.”
The H5N6 strain of bird flu was confirmed in 21 wild birds between January and June 2018. Although there have been no findings in wild birds in the UK since June 2018, the virus is still circulating around the world both in wild birds and domestic poultry.
IF YOU suspect bird flu, report it at once:
● England – call the Defra Rural Services Helpline on 03000 200 301.
● Scotland – contact your local Field Services Office, visit: www.gov.scot/publications/avian-influenza-bird-flu/ or email: APHA.Scotland@apha.gov.uk
● Wales – call 0300 303 8268.
● Northern Ireland – call the DAERA Helpline on 0300 2007840.
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