Following a number of detections of avian influenza (bird flu) in wild birds across Great Britain, the Chief Veterinary Officers from England, Scotland and Wales declared an Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) across the whole of Great Britain from 5pm on Wednesday 3 November 2021.
This is to mitigate the risk of the disease spreading amongst poultry and captive birds, and means that it’s a legal requirement for all bird keepers in Great Britain to follow strict biosecurity measures to help protect their flocks.
Backyard poultry-keepers, including chickens, ducks and geese, must take steps to limit the risk of the disease spreading to their animals.
- Keep domestic ducks and geese separate from other poultry;
- Ensure the areas where birds are kept are unattractive to wild birds, for example by netting ponds, and by removing wild bird food sources;
- Feed and water their birds in enclosed areas to discourage wild birds;
- Minimise movement into and out of bird enclosures;
- Cleanse and disinfect footwear and keep areas where birds live clean and tidy;
- Reduce any existing contamination by cleansing and disinfecting concrete areas, and fencing off wet or boggy areas;
- Keep free-ranging birds within fenced areas, and ponds, watercourses and permanent standing water must be fenced off (except in specific circumstances, e.g. zoo birds).
In addition, keepers with more than 500 birds will need to restrict access for non-essential people on their sites, workers will need to change clothing and footwear before entering bird enclosures and site vehicles will need to be cleaned and disinfected regularly to limit the risk of the disease spreading.
The prevention zone will be in place until further notice and will be kept under regular review as part of the government’s work to monitor and manage the risks of bird flu.
If this is your first winter as a poultry keeper, you need to be aware that in previous years, as cases of AI increase in the UK over the winter months, it has been a legal requirement to keep poultry under cover. This can happen at short notice, so you need to have plans in place and ready to go. Keep an eye on the gov.uk wesbite for AI updates, so you are aware of the situation at all times.
Avian influenza circulates naturally in wild birds and when they migrate to the UK from mainland Europe over the winter they can spread the disease to poultry and other captive birds.
The UK health agencies advise that the risk to public health from the virus is very low and the UK food standards agencies advise that avian influenzas pose a very low food safety risk for UK consumers. Properly cooked poultry and poultry products, including eggs, are safe to eat.
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