With the UK currently experiencing the worst avian influenza outbreak to date, the Chief Veterinary Officer (CVO) for England, Christine Middlemiss, has called upon all poultry keepers to improve biosecurity.
To help poultry farmers and bird keepers of all scales and sizes to identify where improvements can be made, we have produced a new biosecurity poster to highlight key focus areas.
What you can do
The CVO stated: “You should be looking at different elements of your biosecurity and where it can be ramped up."
Our poster highlights key biosecurity focus areas.
A printable version can be downloaded, for use as a tool to help think about, improve and ensure consistent biosecurity practices are implemented on-farm.
A poster specifically for non-commercial bird keepers is also available and is being disseminated to a range of contacts throughout the smallholder and hobby keeping sector.
Indirect wild bird contact
Avian influenza is most likely to enter a flock through indirect wild bird contact, either via respiratory secretions, or, most commonly, through infected bird droppings.
The CVO reminded those who attended the webinar hosted by the NFU in December that "a tiny amount of the virus is all that’s needed to get into a shed and then it can amplify up and spread through all the birds."
Take every step
Only 1g of infected faeces is required to cause one million birds to die, and testing from last year demonstrated that the virus could survive in the environment for 21 days at 4°C. Therefore it is vital that every step is taken to guard against infection entering a poultry site.
Most common disease incursion routes:
- Contaminated litter/bedding materials
- Movement of people and equipment
- Poor building maintenance
Improving on-farm biosecurity can tangibly reduce the risk of disease incursion into your flock.
Currently the risk of avian influenza infection into poultry where biosecurity is poor is deemed high, but this is reduced to medium risk where biosecurity is good. To bring the risk down to low, stringent biosecurity and absolute cleanliness is required.
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 these helplines are here to support.
- FCN: 03000 111 999
- RABI: 0800 188 4444
- DPJ Foundation: 0800 587 4262
- YANA: 0300 3230 400
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.