Due to the heightened risk of avian influenza, new housing measures for poultry and captive birds came into effect today (14 December 2020) across England, Scotland and Wales. These housing measures build on the strengthened biosecurity regulations that were brought in as part of the Avian Influenza Protection Zone (AIPZ) on 11 November. The AIPZ means that all poultry and captive bird keepers need to take extra precautions, such as cleaning and disinfecting equipment, clothing and vehicles, limiting access to non-essential people on their sites, and workers changing clothing and footwear before entering bird enclosures. Unfortunately, nationwide there has been an increase in the number of cases of avian flu and this has resulted in the government bringing in more stringent housing measures from today to help protect poultry and captive birds.
The new measures mean it is a legal requirement for all bird keepers, whether they have a few birds or thousands, to keep their birds indoors or take appropriate steps to keep them separate from wild birds. All bird keepers must follow strict biosecurity measures in order to limit the spread of and eradicate this highly infectious disease.
Councillor Garry Perry, Walsall Council portfolio holder for public protection, said: “While the risk to humans is very low, avian flu is highly contagious among birds. There are a lot of small domestic poultry keepers in Walsall who may not think this is relevant to them, it is. Anyone who keeps poultry or captive birds—whether that’s a family with a couple of hens in the garden or a pigeon fancier with birds in backyard loft—is urged to take precautions to keep their birds safe and register their birds with the environmental health team.
“Any member of the public who may come across a sick or dead bird when out and about is asked to please not touch it, but please report it to DEFRA immediately.”
The new measures are explained in detail in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs’ (DEFRA) Advice for all captive bird and poultry keepers (including game birds, waterfowl, and pet birds) guidance. The new housing measures will be kept under regular review as part of the government’s work to protect flocks.
Avian flu is a notifiable animal disease. If you suspect any type of avian flu in poultry or captive birds you must report it immediately by calling the DEFRA Rural Services Helpline on 03000 200 301. Failure to do so is an offence.
If you find dead wild waterfowl (swans, geese or ducks) or other dead wild birds, such as gulls or birds of prey, you should report them to the DEFRA helpline on 03459 33 55 77 – please select option 7.
Poultry keepers can sign up to receive free alerts through the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) disease alerts service.
For poultry/ captive bird keepers
If you do keep poultry or captive birds in Walsall—whether commercially or just a few birds in a backyard—and have not already done so, please register your flock with the council advising us of the type and number of birds you keep. You can register by completing the form on our website or by emailing email@example.com for assistance. The information will only be used as part of the council’s statutory obligations to protect animal health and welfare.
Any person or business that keeps more than 50 birds must also register with DEFRA and APHA.