- Posted by: Mike Hedges MS
- Category: Uncategorized
Mike Hedges AM welcomes advice for Poultry keepers – they are urged to take action now to prepare for winter avian flu threat
All poultry keepers across the UK are being urged to remain vigilant to the threat of bird flu and take action now to reduce the risk to their flocks and the wider poultry industry this winter in a joint call from the Chief Vets of Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and the UK.
Mike said…l have met with many people over the years who keep small flocks of poultry, often on very small pieces of land. I urge these people to follow this advice so that we can minimise the risks of Avian Flu. Simple measures, which do not cost a huge amount, can pay a real dividend when it comes to reducing the risks of this serious disease. I urge all small flock holders to follow this advice’
Simple measures can help to keep flocks disease free. All keepers – whether they run a large commercial farm or keep just a few pet chickens in their back garden – can get ahead of the game and take these simple steps to reduce the risk of disease before autumn migration of ducks and geese begins again this winter:
- · keep the area where birds live clean and tidy, control rats and mice and regularly disinfect any hard surfaces. Clean footwear before and after visits
- · place birds’ food and water in fully enclosed areas that are protected from wild birds, and remove any spilled feed regularly
- · put fencing around outdoor areas where birds are allowed, and limit their access to ponds or areas visited by wild waterfowl
- · in Great Britain, stay alert by signing up online to a free service to receive text or email alerts on any outbreaks of bird flu in the UK. You can also quickly and easily register your flock online. In Northern Ireland, visit the DAERA website for further information.
Last winter, the H5N8 strain of bird flu was found in 13 kept flocks in the UK – ranging in size from as few as nine to as many as 65,000 birds. We’ve seen a decline in the number of new cases over the summer, but the disease is still circulating in kept poultry across Europe, with Italy the most recent country to suffer a series of outbreaks. It has also recently been confirmed in a dead mute swan in Norfolk.
Government is working with groups including NFUs, RSPCA, British Hen Welfare Trust, Poultry Club of Great Britain and UFU to highlight the importance of keeping up high biosecurity even though the immediate disease risk has dropped.
Together, the groups are also keen to highlight the impact of bird flu on the poultry industry, as a case in a backyard flock leads to the same trade restrictions in an area as an outbreak on a commercial farm – so protecting chickens in a back garden from the disease also protects farmers locally and nationally.
The UK’s Chief Veterinary Officer, Nigel Gibbens, said:
“While it is undoubtedly good news we haven’t confirmed a case in kept birds in the UK for two months, the disease remains a threat – particularly as we move again towards the colder months.
“For that reason we cannot afford to rest on our laurels and I want to remind keepers of flocks large and small to do everything they can to reduce the risk to their birds.
“Simple actions you can take now, such as regularly cleaning and disinfecting the area where you keep your birds and signing up for free disease alerts, could really help to reduce the risk of your birds becoming infected this winter.”
The Chief Veterinary Officer for Wales, Christianne Glossop said:
“While I am sure this lack of new outbreaks will be welcomed by poultry and other captive bird keepers of both large and small flocks I would remind everyone it is vital they continue to be vigilant for signs of disease and maintain excellent biosecurity practices.
“If you are concerned about the health of your birds you should seek advice from your veterinary surgeon and if you suspect that your birds have AI, you should report it to your local Animal and Plant Health Agency office.”