The UK’s Chief Veterinary Officer Christine Middlemiss is urging all poultry keepers not to be complacent and to continue following the urgent biosecurity measures needed to keep their birds safe and help stop the spread of bird flu.
The UK is tackling its largest ever outbreak of bird flu with nearly 100 cases confirmed across the country since the start of November 2021. To help mitigate the spread of disease, the Government introduced new housing measures on November 29, 2021 which means that keepers of chickens, ducks, geese or any other birds are now legally required to keep them indoors and to follow strict biosecurity measures.
If they do not do this, the disease could kill their birds and they could be fined.
Wild birds migrating to the UK from mainland Europe during the winter months and other wildlife spread the disease, so it is vital to not allow wild birds to mix with your chickens, ducks, geese or other birds.
People can also spread the disease on their clothes and shoes so before going into bird enclosures, they should wash their hands, and change or clean and disinfect their footwear.
Ms Middlemiss said: “We have taken swift action to limit the spread of the disease including introducing housing measures. However we are still seeing a number of bird flu cases both on commercial farms and in backyard birds right across the country.
“Many poultry keepers have excellent biosecurity standards but the number of cases we are seeing suggests that not enough is being done to keep bird flu out. Whether you keep just a few birds or thousands you must take action now to protect your birds from this highly infectious disease.”
Ms Middlemiss said the legal requirement to house birds and to step up biosecurity measures will remain in force until further notice but be kept under regular review as part of the government’s work to protect flocks.