Veterinary associations urge poultry keepers to keep animals safe after Avian Influenza scare

British poultry-keepers are being encouraged to protect their flocks with practical biosecurity measures. 

Following on from recent outbreaks of Avian Influenza (AI) in Carmarthenshire, Yorkshire and a swannery in Dorset, the British Veterinary Association (BVA) and British Veterinary Poultry Association (BVPA) are offering keepers advice on sensible ways to keep captive and backyard flocks separate from wild birds.

This comes after the government’s extension of Avian Influenza Prevention Zones until 28 February.

“The confirmation of AI in a number of small flocks shows the very real risk that the disease poses to backyard flocks and the importance of keeping them separate from wild birds,” said BVA president Gudrun Ravetz.

“We know that not all backyard keepers will have to hand buildings that they can immediately house their flocks in, so Defra’s leaflet gives practicable advice on alternatives, including temporary structures.

He highlighted that biosecurity was just as important to smallholders and hobby-keepers of birds as it was to large-scale and commercial poultry keepers. “Tight biosecurity, such as maintaining high levels of cleanliness and hygiene and not allowing visitors to come close to your birds, is essential.

“Signs of avian flu can vary between species of bird and could range from very mild signs like seeming ‘off colour’ or reduced feed or water intakes through to the severity of death. If you are concerned about your flock, please speak to your local vet.”

BVPA president David Welchman added: “BVA and BVPA’s advice to backyard poultry-keepers mirrors the advice issued by governments in England, Scotland and Wales. It is important to keep backyard flocks safe and well during the current outbreaks of AI in Europe.

“Thorough biosecurity is critical in reducing the risk of infection, and we cannot emphasise enough the current importance of keeping captive birds separate from wild birds. We are also very pleased that the Defra factsheet gives advice on how to maintain good welfare for your poultry during the Prevention Zone period so we’d urge keepers to read the factsheet and act on it.”

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