British Poultry Must Move Indoors as Bird Flu Precaution

UK - Poultry disease prevention zones have been put in place across England, Scotland and Wales, requiring birds to be kept indoors from today for 30 days.
calendar icon 7 December 2016
clock icon 3 minute read

The Chief Veterinary Officers declared the zones following outbreaks of a highly pathogenic avian influenza strain, called H5N8, which has been spreading all over Europe and beyond over the past few weeks.

Outbreaks have been found in nearby countries such as France and the Netherlands, but also as far afield as Russia, Iran and India. The disease is thought to be spreading via migrating waterfowl, and the virus type was only discovered in Russia just over two months ago.

No cases have been found in the UK yet, but the zones have been put in place as a precautionary measure. Poultry keepers who cannot keep their birds indoors have been urged to take appropriate steps to keep them separate from wild birds. The housing order will remain in place for 30 days.

England's Chief Veterinary Officer Nigel Gibbens said: "Even when birds are housed a risk of infection remains so this must be coupled with good biosecurity - for example disinfecting clothing and equipment, reducing poultry movement and minimising contact between poultry and wild birds."

Signs of the disease that poultry keepers can look out for include a swollen head, discolouration of neck and throat, loss of appetite, respiratory distress, diarrhoea and fewer eggs laid.

Wales' Chief Veterinary Officer Christianne Glossop said: "Poultry keepers are advised to be vigilant for any signs of disease in their birds and any wild birds, and seek prompt advice from their vet if they have any concerns."

Housing birds is more of an issue for free range producers, but they will retain the ability to market their eggs as free range for the duration of the order.

Poultry farming organisations such as the National Farmers Union, the British Free Range Egg Producers' Association and the British Poultry Council were supportive of the measures.

NFU chief poultry adviser Gary Ford said: "It is important to stress that this is a disease in birds and that there is no risk to human health and the NFU has taken the lead in ensuring the poultry industry is knowledgeable on avian influenza and how it can impact farm businesses."

Further Reading

You can visit the avian flu page by clicking here.

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