Following the latest confirmed case of avian influenza, members are reminded of their responsibilities.
Avian influenza has become an annual issue UK poultry keepers have had to contend with in recent years. The current strain of avian influenza is highly pathogenic, highly contagious and is often fatal in birds.
This has been particularly evident during the winter months, where a spike in cases has correlated with migrations of disease-carrying birds wintering in the UK, and cooler temperatures which enable the disease to thrive.
Most recently in the South West, Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1 was confirmed in commercial poultry on 29 November 2023 at a premises near Cranbrook, East Devon. A 3km protection zone and a 10km surveillance zone have been declared around the premises.
Any members who find themselves in a bird flu control zone must follow the rules for that zone and check if you need a licence to move poultry, poultry by-products, eggs, material or mammals.
To protect the health and welfare of birds and limit the spread of the disease, good biosecurity is vital, and having a robust biosecurity policy is also now a mandatory requirement being made by insurers. The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) has produced guidance on how to spot and report avian influenza in poultry and other captive birds as well as guidance on how to prevent it and stop it spreading.
As we enter the winter months, members keeping poultry should be vigilant, keeping a close eye on their birds for signs of disease, which include lethargy, unresponsiveness and a sudden and rapid increase in the number of birds found dead. Members should report signs of the disease to the Defra Rural Services Helpline on 03000 200 301. Failure to do so is an offence.
To ensure you are kept up with developments, we strongly recommend that all poultry keeping members subscribe to the Animal and Plant Health Agency email alerts.
The spread of avian influenza is also having an impact on the game shooting community and British Game Assurance have produced a helpful Q and A.
Keepers of more than 50 birds are also reminded that they are required to register their flocks, whether they’re of a single species or a combination of different ones. Non-compliance of registering could result in a fine up to £5,000. Registrations of flocks below this threshold is also advised.