Avian flu forces flock lockdown

Whether you keep just a few birds or thousands, from 14 December onwards you will be legally required to keep your birds indoors or otherwise take appropriate steps to keep them separate from wild birds.

That was the message put out by the Scottish, Welsh and UK governments in light of the growing risk of avian influenza, or bird flu, giving keepers just over a week to prepare and implement a full lockdown on their flocks.

“We have not taken this decision lightly, but it is the best way to protect your birds from this highly infectious disease,” said the country’s chief veterinary officers.

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They said key to preventing spread of the disease lay in good biosecurity across all premises in which domestic birds are kept, including the following practices:

Housing or netting all poultry and captive birds; cleansing and disinfecting clothing, footwear, equipment and vehicles before and after contact with birds – if practical, use disposable protective clothing; reducing the movement of people, vehicles or equipment to and from areas where birds are kept.

Thoroughly cleaning and disinfecting housing at the end of a production cycle was also advised, along with keeping fresh disinfectant at the right concentration at all access points and minimising direct and indirect contact between poultry and captive birds and wild birds, including feed and watering points.

Keepers were also advised to be vigilant for any signs of disease in their birds and any wild birds - and to seek prompt advice from their vet if they had any concerns.