Outbreaks of Avian Influenza have been confirmed in poultry and captive birds in England and restriction zones are in place around the infected premises. Avian Influenza has also been found in the wild bird population meaning the risk of further disease outbreaks across the country is considered high if biosecurity is poor.
An Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) has been declared across the whole of England, with additional housing measures in force from 14 December 2020. The AIPZ means all bird keepers in England (whether they have pet birds, commercial flocks or just a few birds in a backyard flock) are required by law to take a range of biosecurity precautions including from the 14 December 2020 keeping their birds indoors except in very specific circumstances;
- ducks and geese, where housing is less practicable due to welfare concerns, you must fully enclose them, for example, with netting to separate them from wild birds.
- large commercial flocks of geese and gamebirds may be impossible to house or net or enclose, in which case you must feed and water your birds undercover, fence off and net ponds and standing water and take active methods to separate them from wild birds
Additionally the Avian Influenza Prevention Zone requires compulsory biosecurity measures and record keeping requirements for all keepers of poultry and captive birds. As a minimum to ensure good biosecurity and housekeeping, all poultry and captive bird keepers should:
- minimise movement in and out of bird enclosures
- clean footwear before and after visiting birds, using a Defra-approved disinfectant at entrances and exits
- place birds’ food and water in fully enclosed areas protected from wild birds, and remove any spilled feed regularly
- keep areas where birds live clean and tidy, and regularly disinfect hard surfaces such as paths and walkways
- avoid keeping ducks and geese with other poultry species outdoors
- clean and disinfect vehicles and equipment that have come into contact with poultry
- humanely control rats and mice
- ensure any outdoor area poultry or captive birds have access to is fenced to keep them separate from wildlife and wild waterfowl
- restrict access to open or permanent standing water by fencing off and netting ponds, standing water or waterlogged land
- keep a close watch on birds for any signs of disease and report any very sick birds or unexplained deaths to your vet.
All poultry keepers are encouraged to register their birds on the GB Poultry register so they can be contacted quickly if there is a disease outbreak in their area. This is a legal requirement for keepers of more than 50 birds and highly recommended for all keepers.
GOV.UK - How to register your birds (external website)
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GOV.UK - Avian influenza (external website)