An Order to house all captive birds, or to otherwise separate them from wild birds, begins on Monday 14 December throughout England, Wales and Scotland. Bird keepers are encouraged to prepare for the new legal requirements.
The new housing measures mean that it will be a legal requirement for all bird keepers to keep their birds indoors, or otherwise separate them from wild birds, and to follow strict biosecurity measures in order to limit the spread of, and eradicate, the disease.
The Chief Veterinary Officers have agreed to bring in these new measures to help protect poultry and captive birds, following a number of cases of avian influenza in both wild and captive birds in the UK. New cases, identified over the last few weeks, have been confirmed across a large geographical area.
For gamebirds and some other species, such as geese, it is accepted that actual housing is impossible, not least as it has adverse welfare consequences. Kept gamebirds can be roof netted or other arrangements made to keep wild birds away, such as covering feeders and drinkers within un-nettable pens, and the use of crow bangers.
At this time of year, only captive overwintered breeding gamebirds are affected.
As ever, the NGO is reminding people to be vigilant and to ensure appropriate biosecurity and other measures are in place. Please find our Standing Advice on Bird Flu and Gamebirds, here.
The full detail of the announcement and guidance from Defra can be found here.
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 the Animal and Plant Health Agency on 03000 200 301. Keepers should familiarise themselves with Defra’s avian flu advice.