Nationwide AI Prevention Zone declared for England, Scotland and Wales

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The Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) introduced on 11 November 2020 has been amended to include additional housing measures for all poultry and captive birds.

On 14 December 2020, additional housing measures came into effect to combat the spread of Avian Influenza. These new measures build on the strict biosecurity requirements already in place following the introduction of a GB-wide Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) on 11 November 2020.

From 00:01 AM on Monday 14 December 2020, it was a legal requirement for all poultry keepers to house their birds and observe the following conditions:

  • Buildings must be suitable for housing poultry, and keepers should regularly inspect them to ensure that they continue to be
  • Keepers should regularly inspect any building or structure used to house birds to ensure there is no water ingress or access for wild birds or rodents
  • Any openings must be covered with suitable mesh or netting with a maximum size of 25mm to prevent wild bird ingress
  • Feed and bedding are to be kept indoors
  • Measures are put in place to ensure wild birds are not attracted to areas on their holding, for example watercourses, ponds or standing water
  • Concrete walkways, paths or building aprons that could be contaminated by wild birds should be regularly cleaned and disinfected

Where it is not possible to house birds on welfare grounds, poultry and captive birds must be kept in a fully enclosed or netted outdoor area, subject to the following conditions:

  • The outdoor area must be fully enclosed with wire mesh, netting or other material which is capable of preventing ingress of wild birds.  This does not apply to poultry kept for restocking supplies of game
  • Any mesh or netting which should be of a maximum size of 25mm
  • Access to open or permanent standing water is restricted by fencing off and netting ponds, standing water, or waterlogged land to prevent access by poultry or other captive birds
  • There must be no direct contact with poultry or other captive birds on other neighbouring premises
  • Feed and bedding are kept indoors, and feed and water provided under cover where wild birds cannot gain access
  • Any carcases of wild birds are removed from the outdoor fenced range area
  • Concrete walkways, paths or building aprons that could be contaminated by wild birds should be regularly cleaned and disinfected
  • The range area must be regularly inspected to ensure it is not contaminated with feathers or faecal material from wild birds and reasonable steps are taken to remove such contamination that may be present as soon as is practicable
  • Before placing any new structures or enclosures on land for the purpose of keeping poultry or other captive birds outdoors, the keeper must inspect the site for and remove feathers and faecal matter from wild birds
  • Proactive measures should be in place to ensure wild birds are not attracted to water courses or standing water on the keeper’s property in the vicinity of poultry or captive birds
  • Wild birds should be proactively discouraged (for example using streamers, bird scarers, foils) from entering the fenced outdoor areas or congregating in the vicinity of the outdoor range area.
  • The fully enclosed range area is regularly inspected by the keeper to ensure that all of these conditions continue to be met

Keepers can read the full AIPZ declaration for England here, and for Wales here.

The latest updates on Avian Influenza in the UK can be found here.

In addition to the new housing measures outlined above, the AIPZ also requires all bird keepers (including backyard and hobby keepers) in Great Britain to:

  • Take precautions against transfer of virus contamination between sites or premises, including cleansing and disinfection of footwear, vehicles, and equipment.
  • Ensure the areas where birds kept are unattractive to wild birds. For example, by netting ponds and by removing wild bird food sources
  • Feed and water your birds in enclosed areas to discourage wild birds
  • Minimise movement of people in and out of bird enclosures
  • Clean 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.
  • Exercise effective rodent control in areas poultry are kept
  • Record all vehicles and people who enter the premises or come into contact with birds (zoos are exempt)
  • Record all poultry, captive birds and egg movements must be kept and made available to a veterinary inspector on demand
  • Ensure bird housing is well maintained, with any water leaks or contamination routes rectified

Additionally, keepers with more than 500 birds are required to take extra biosecurity measures, including

  • Operating effective barrier hygiene, including changing clothing and footwear before entering and exiting the live-bird area
  • Access to live-bird area is restricted to authorised personnel and essential equipment and vehicles
  • Thorough cleansing and disinfecting of housing and equipment must be carried out at the end of a production cycle before any new birds are introduced
  • Regularly inspect structural integrity of any building used to house poultry for holes and leaks, with particular emphasis on roofs, gutters, and downpipes.  Any holes and leaks must be repaired without undue delay as previous cases of avian influenza have been linked to water ingress and flooding
  • Egg producers will need to ensure the packing, handling, and storage of second quality eggs / farm seconds is a managed in a biosecure manner.
  • Egg trays must be cleansed and disinfected before use and records maintained as above

Keepers can read more about the biosecurity measures they need to introduce here. 

A joint statement from Great Britain's three Chief Veterinary Officers said:

“Whether you keep just a few birds or thousands, from 14 December onwards you will be legally required to keep your birds indoors or take appropriate steps to keep them separate from wild birds. We have not taken this decision lightly, but it is the best way to protect your birds from this highly infectious disease.”

NFU chief poultry adviser Aimee Mahony said:

“Due to a number of confirmed Avian Influenza cases, the introduction of these new housing measures is a logical next step to best protect poultry.

“These new measures mean that every poultry keeper, whether you have one hen in the garden or a large poultry business, must house their birds indoors and I would urge everyone with poultry to take these measures seriously.

“It’s crucial that everyone remains vigilant and reports any signs of disease in their birds at the earliest opportunity.”

The Avian Influenza Prevention Zone will be in place until further notice and will be kept under regular review by Defra.

Keepers are encouraged to read the latest government advice on avian influenza in the UK and to sign up to Defra’s poultry register in order to be quickly updated with information and advice.

In these uncertain and often challenging times it is more important than ever to look after our own and others’ mental health.  If you or anyone you know are experiencing anxiety or stress then help and support is available nationally via the Farming Community Network (FCN) and Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution (RABI) websites.  The Prince’s Countryside Fund has also published a directory of local farm and rural support groups.

More information:

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