From today (Dec 14) all poultry and captive birds must be kept indoors and strict biosecurity measures put in place, under rules issued recently by the Animal and Plant Health Agency. An increase in cases of Avian Influenza (bird flu) in both wild birds and commercial poultry flocks means that these additional rules have been brought in to prevent further spread of the disease.

These housing measures build on the strengthened biosecurity regulations that were brought in as part of the Avian Influenza Protection Zone (AIPZ) on 11 November. Government Chief Veterinary Officers are encouraging bird keepers to take steps to safeguard animal welfare, consult their vet and where necessary put up additional housing.

Poultry and captive bird keepers are advised to be vigilant for any signs of disease in their birds and any wild birds, and seek prompt advice from their vet if they have any concerns. They can help prevent avian flu by maintaining good biosecurity on their premises, including:

  • housing or netting all poultry and captive birds
  • cleansing and disinfecting clothing, footwear, equipment and vehicles before and after contact with poultry and captive birds – if practical, use disposable protective clothing
  • reducing the movement of people, vehicles or equipment to and from areas where poultry and captive birds are kept, to minimise contamination from manure, slurry and other products, and using effective vermin control
  • thoroughly cleaning and disinfecting housing at the end of a production cycle
  • keeping fresh disinfectant at the right concentration at all points where people should use it, such as farm entrances and before entering poultry and captive bird housing or enclosures
  • minimising direct and indirect contact between poultry and captive birds and wild birds, including making sure all feed and water is not accessible to wild birds

Poultry and captive bird keepers and members of the public should report dead wild birds to the Defra helpline on 03459 33 55 77 (option 7), and keepers should report suspicion of disease to APHA on 03000 200 301.

For full details and regular updates see the Government’s avian flu advice pages.

Image: A depiction of a chicken being tested for Bird Flu, also called Avian Influenza, using an oropharyngeal swab.
Source: Wikipedia,under under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.


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