Avian influenza

Poultry

If you suspect that you have any type of avian influenza in any captive birds on your farm, it must be reported immediately.

Any dead waterfowl or wild birds that you find on your land must be reported to Defra so they can be tested.

Get advice from your vet if you are ever worried about the health of your birds.

Use Defra’s interactive map to check if you are in a Disease Control Zone and need to implement extra measures

What you need to know

Keep Your Birds Safe

It is important to practice good biosecurity if you keep poultry or captive birds.

“Whether you keep just a few birds or thousands, you are now legally required to introduce higher biosecurity standards on your farm or small holding. It is in your interests to do so in order to protect your birds from this highly infectious disease.

Keeping your birds safe

Only 1g of infected faeces is required to cause one million birds to die, therefore keeping everything that is going in and out of the shed to a minimum and as clean as possible, is the only way to minimise the risk of AI.

Defra has put together some guidance on biosecurity and preventing disease in a Prevention Zone which has good biosecurity points worth following.

The chief veterinary officer, Christine Middlemiss, advises the following:

  • Cleansing and disinfecting clothing, footwear, equipment and vehicles before and after contact with poultry – if practical, use disposable protective clothing
  • Reducing the movement of people, vehicles or equipment to and from areas where poultry are kept to minimise contamination from manure, slurry and other products and using effective vermin control
  • Thoroughly cleaning and disinfecting housing at the end of a production cycle
  • Keeping fresh disinfectant at the right concentration at all points where people should use it, such as farm entrances and before entering poultry housing or enclosures
  • Minimising direct and indirect contact between poultry and wild birds, including making sure all feed and water is not accessible to wild birds.

In a joint statement, the Chief Veterinary Officers for England, Scotland and Wales said:

“Following a number of detections of avian influenza in wild birds across Great Britain we have declared an Avian Influenza Prevention Zone across the whole of Great Britain. This means that all bird keepers must take action now to prevent the disease spreading to poultry and other domestic birds.

“Whether you keep just a few birds or thousands, you are now legally required to introduce higher biosecurity standards on your farm or small holding. It is in your interests to do so in order to protect your birds from this highly infectious disease.

“The UK health agencies have confirmed that the risk to public health is very low and UK food standards agencies advise that bird flu poses a very low food safety risk for UK consumers.”

Your health and wellbeing

Your health and wellbeing matters.

It is understandable, during these times, to feel an increase in stress or anxiety. There are a number of rural charities and support networks that can offer help to those in need.

If you are struggling or know someone who is, know that you are not alone and the below helplines are here to support:

RABI has created an online farming community where you can access free, safe and anonymous online mental wellbeing support from any device – Online wellbeing support and counselling for farming people.

Farmwell has also published useful personal resilience guidance.

The Prince's Countryside Fund has a list of Farm Support Groups, local organisations and charities working across the UK, supporting people working in agriculture and rural communities.

Public information on reporting

Members of the public are encouraged to report dead wild waterfowl (swans, geese or ducks) or gulls, or five or more dead wild birds of other species in the same location to the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) helpline on 0300 303 8268.

If you’re concerned with the health of any of your own birds please contact your veterinary surgeon, or if you think they are showing signs of disease please contact your local APHA office.

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