New restrictions on Poultry and Game

An outbreak of Avian flu continues to spread across the country. It has not, as yet, been found on farms in Somerset. However from 4 weeks ago when the outbreak was contained to Yorkshire, it has now spread. Cases have been identified in Lancashire, Norfolk, Essex, Leicestershire and Cheshire.

But it is getting closer. In the last week new cases have been found in Worcestershire, Warwickshire and most recently in Dorset.

Government are not taking chances and new housing measures for poultry come into force effective from Monday (29 November). That means that it will be a legal requirement for all bird keepers across the UK to keep their birds indoors. They must follow strict biosecurity measures in order to limit the spread of and eradicate the disease.

Government Chief Veterinary Officers are encouraging bird keepers to prepare for the new housing measures. From 29 November poultry keepers must:

  • house or net all poultry and captive birds to keep them separate from wild birds
  • cleanse and disinfect clothing, footwear, equipment and vehicles before and after contact with poultry and captive birds – if practical, use disposable protective clothing
  • reduce the movement of people, vehicles or equipment to and from areas where poultry and captive birds are kept, to minimise contamination from manure, slurry and other products, and use effective vermin control
  • thoroughly cleanse and disinfect housing on a continuous basis
  • keep fresh disinfectant at the right concentration at all farm and poultry housing entry and exit points
  • minimise direct and indirect contact between poultry and captive birds and wild birds, including making sure all feed and water is not accessible to wild birds

Bird “gatherings” are also banned for some types of bird. A “gathering” is defined as bird fairs, markets, shows, sales, exhibitions and some premises used for dealing or internet sales. In addition, vehicles may not be used to transport live birds especially where the birds are brought together from multiple premises. The species that are covered by this ruling are: pheasants, partridge, quail, chickens, turkey, guinea fowl, ducks, geese, and swans.

All of which sounds a bit worrying with Christmas less than 4 weeks away. What about your turkey (or duck, goose or chicken for that matter)? Here is what you need to know:

  • Public health advice remains that the risk to human health from the virus is very low
  • Food standards bodies advise that avian influenzas pose a very low food safety risk for UK consumers.
  • There is no impact on the consumption of properly cooked poultry products including eggs.

However if you do come across dead or sick birds, please do not touch them. You should instead report them to 03000 200 301

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