In its annual security reminder, the CLA is warning smallholders in particular to be on the look-out for bird rustlers eager to cash in on the traditional seasonal demand for turkeys, chickens, geese and ducks.
But all poultry producers must take extra care to combat raiders who are quick to punish poor farmyard security, says the CLA.
CLA South East Director Robin Edwards said: "Specialist poultry farms are usually well protected with modern alarm systems and sophisticated security technology. But even they should be extra alert day and night during the run-up to December 25 and never underestimate the audacity and determination of thieves seeking poultry to steal.
"However, it is often the ordinary farmer rearing birds for family, friends and regular customers who proves to be the most vulnerable target for poultry rustlers. Failure to take strict security precautions to safeguard their flock could be rewarded with a miserable Christmas when they find an empty shed one morning and months of work and investment wiped out in one night.
"Don't forget one of the oldest, most efficient and cost-effective farmyard alarm systems – an alert dog with sensitive hearing and a loud bark."
The essential and simple rules of the CLA Christmas Code are:
• DO keep your flock in a structurally sound building with locked doors and sealed windows, as close to the farmhouse as possible;
• DO keep a look-out for any strange vehicles parked suspiciously nearby and note their registration numbers and report them to the Police via 101 – their owners could be planning a poultry raid.