Above: Excuse me… where’s your facemask? Migrating wild birds, such as these teal, may carry flu just as humans do, but wild populations are generally good at developing resistance. Genetically impoverished commercial stocks are far more vulnerable.
IT IS NOW a legal requirement for all birdkeepers in the UK to keep their birds indoors and follow strict biosecurity measures to limit the spread of avian influenza (bird flu). The new legislation – which affects all birdkeepers, but poultry keepers in particular – came into force on November 29.
Since November 8 and owing to widespread cases of bird flu across the country, DEFRA and the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) established an Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ), meaning gatherings of galliforme and anseriforme birds (mainly poultry and ducks) are not permitted. (See News, November 17).
As Cage & Aviary Birds went to press, there had been no changes to the advice on bird gatherings, meaning that cage and aviary bird shows, sales and other gatherings are still able to go ahead, but must be registered in advance.
Public Health has advised that wild birds migrating to the UK from mainland Europe during the winter months can carry bird flu and that this can lead to cases in poultry and other captive birds.
Government chief veterinary officers are encouraging birdkeepers to take extra precautions to keep their birds safe by making sure that birds in outside aviaries have the necessary shelter to keep them away from wild birds.
In a joint statement the UK’s four chief veterinary officers said: “Whether you keep just a few birds or thousands, from Monday 29 November 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, taking this action now is the best way to protect your birds from this highly infectious disease.”
Birdkeepers should report any suspicion of avian flu to the DEFRA Rural Services Helpline on 03000 200 301 – failure to do so is an offence.
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