13 Apr 2017

Avian flu update

The UK’s Chief Veterinary Officer has announced that all poultry in England are to be allowed outside from Thursday 13 April 2017 following updated evidence on the risk posed by wild birds.

The UK’s Chief Veterinary Officer has announced that all poultry in England are to be allowed outside from Thursday 13 April 2017 following updated evidence on the risk posed by wild birds.

From 13 April 2017, keepers will no longer be required to house poultry or put in place total range netting in Higher Risk Areas of England. However, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) requires all keepers to continue to comply with strict biosecurity measures. This means all poultry keepers must continue to take steps to reduce the risk to their birds, including minimising movement in and out of bird enclosures, cleaning footwear, keeping areas where birds live clean and tidy and feeding birds indoors. However, a ban on poultry gatherings will remain in force across the UK until further notice – this will apply to birds including chickens, turkeys, ducks and geese, and restricts events such as livestock fairs, auctions and bird shows.

The decision to lift the additional requirements in the Higher Risk Areas is based on the latest scientific evidence and veterinary advice, which concludes that the level of risk to poultry in these areas has now reduced to the same level as that across the rest of England. This is because of changes in the wild bird population: the majority of over-wintering migratory birds have now left the UK, and resident wild waterfowl are at their lowest levels and entering the breeding season when they become less likely to move long distances to forage for food.

The risk of poultry becoming infected from H5N8 remains heightened and countries across Europe continue to experience outbreaks and observe cases in wild birds.

Isle of Wight Council regulatory services manager, Amanda Gregory, said: ”We welcome the news from Defra that keepers can once again allow their birds outside. It is reassuring to see that to date existing Defra contingency plans have contained and isolated the outbreak and I’d like to thank the Island bird keeping community for following this advice. The Trading Standards Service continues to monitor the situation and to work closely with other local services, interested parties and DEFRA.

“However, I would remind poultry keepers that H5N8 avian flu in wild birds remains a threat to poultry and kept birds across the UK and keepers must comply with strict biosecurity measures. Keepers of birds are urged to be vigilant and to maintain good hygiene practices when dealing with their poultry and should also consider how to isolate the birds that are normally kept outside, from wild birds, should the need arise.”

Although unlikely, if you do find dead wild waterfowl (swans, geese or ducks) or other dead wild birds, such as gulls or birds of prey, you should report them to the DEFRA helpline (03459 33 55 77).

If you keep poultry and captive birds

The following advice and information from DEFRA has been produced for those keeping poultry and captive birds.

H5N8 avian flu in wild birds remains a threat to poultry and kept birds across the UK and keepers must comply with strict biosecurity measures.

On 10 April the UK Chief Veterinary Officer announced that from 13 April 2017, housing or range netting would no longer be required in Higher Risk Areas. This decision was taken on the basis of the latest veterinary advice and scientific evidence which concluded that the level of risk to poultry in the Higher Risk Areas has now reduced to the same level as that across the rest of England.

The Avian Influenza Prevention Zone has been updated to reflect this change. All poultry keepers in England (whether they have commercial flocks or just a few birds in a backyard flock) are required by law to take a range of biosecurity precautions. These include minimising movement in and out of bird enclosures, cleaning footwear, keeping areas where birds live clean and tidy and feeding birds indoors.

Helpful links

More information on the Avian Influenza Zone can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/avian-influenza-bird-flu#prevention-zone  

More information on biosecurity precautions can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/avian-influenza-bird-flu#biosecurity  

More information on the poultry gatherings ban can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/poultry-gatherings-suspended-following-avian-flu-case

Advice on rearing game birds and shooting while the Prevention Zone is in force is available from The National Gamekeepers Organisation on the following link: http://www.nationalgamekeepers.org.uk/news/revised-advice-on-bird-flu-and-gamebirds-published  

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  • From 13 April 2017 all poultry in England are allowed outside.
 
Isle of Wight, UK