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Bird keepers urged to take steps now to reduce risk of avian flu

Published: 20 October 2021

People who keep birds are being urged to take steps now to reduce the risk of their flocks catching avian flu this winter.

Our Trading Standards team are backing the call issued by the UK’s 4 chief veterinary officers to take action now to protect kept birds and avoid any outbreaks of the disease, more commonly known as bird flu.

There are currently no cases of avian flu in the UK, but over the past year 26 outbreaks have been confirmed nationally in kept poultry and captive birds, with more than 300 cases confirmed in wild birds. Two cases affected parts of Derbyshire.

Bird keepers are being urged to be extra vigilant in their care and to improve biosecurity standards as the risk of migratory wild birds infecting domestic birds rises as winter approaches.

Measures that owners can take, whether they run a large commercial farm or keep a few pet chickens in the back yard, include:

  • keeping the area where the birds live clean and tidy, controlling rats and mice and regularly cleaning and disinfecting any hard surfaces
  • keeping chickens and turkeys separate from ducks and geese
  • carrying out regular maintenance checks on sheds
  • placing birds’ feed and water in fully enclosed areas that are protected from wild birds and remove any spilled feed
  • putting fencing around outdoor areas where birds are allowed and limit their access to ponds or areas visited by wild waterfowl
  • cleaning and disinfecting footwear before and after entering premises where birds are kept

Cabinet Member for Health and Communities Councillor Carol Hart said:

“If people keep birds, now is the time to start putting extra measures in place to protect them as the risk of avian flu increases during the migration season.

“When avian flu is suspected or confirmed restrictions are immediately put in place, with our Trading Standards officers on the ground ensuring people are aware and know what they need to do.

“The restrictions cover large areas and can have a huge impact on farms. It’s so important that people take preventative steps now to try to avoid outbreaks in our county again this winter.”

Find more information, including what to do if avian flu is suspected and how to sign up for news alerts from Defra and the Animal and Plant Health Agency.

There is also more information about bird flu on our website.