Bird keepers in Peterborough urged to follow regulations to reduce bird flu risk
Bird keepers across Peterborough are being urged to follow strict national measures put in place by the Government to help keep their own birds and the wild bird population safe this winter.
Following confirmation of a number of cases of Avian Influenza (also known as bird flu) in England, Scotland and Wales, an Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) has been declared across the whole of Great Britain to help stop the disease spreading. This means that bird keepers are now legally required to take a number of precautions, whether they run commercial poultry businesses or have a small flock in their back garden.
The prevention zone means that all bird keepers must, amongst other things:
Keep domestic ducks and geese separate from other poultry;
Ensure the areas where birds are kept are unattractive to wild birds, for example by netting ponds, and by removing wild bird food sources;
Feed and water their birds in enclosed areas to discourage wild birds;
Minimise movement into and out of bird enclosures;
Cleanse and disinfect footwear and keep areas where birds live clean and tidy;
Reduce any existing contamination by cleansing and disinfecting concrete areas, and fencing off wet or boggy areas;
Keep free ranging birds within fenced areas, and ponds, watercourses and permanent standing water must be fenced off (except in specific circumstances, e.g. zoo birds).
Additional requirements are placed on keepers with more than 500 birds including the need to restrict access for non-essential people on their sites; ensure workers change clothing and footwear before entering bird enclosures and that site vehicles are cleaned and disinfected regularly to limit the risk of the disease spreading.
The detailed requirements can be found in the AIPZ Order itself, and to accompany this DEFRA have produced a detailed biosecurity guide and self-assessment checklist to help bird keepers put the requirements into practice.
Councillor Steve Allen, cabinet member for Housing, Culture and Communities at Peterborough City Council, said: “Although there haven’t been any confirmed cases of bird flu locally as yet, it is really important that bird keepers across the Peterborough area follow the measures put in place by the Government, whether you just have a few chickens in your back garden or keep poultry commercially on a farm.
“It’s really important for us to help protect the livelihoods of our commercial bird keepers, as well as the health of birds kept as pets and the wild bird population, so we are asking everyone who looks after poultry to keep a close eye on them for any signs of disease and stay on top of their cleaning and working practises in line with the AIPZ requirements.
“I would like to stress that the risk to public health is very low, and properly cooked poultry and poultry products, including eggs, are still safe to eat according to the Food Standards Agency.”
All bird keepers are encouraged to register their poultry, even if only kept as pets, so the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) can contact them during an outbreak. This is a legal requirement if you have 50 or more birds.
Poultry keepers who have concerns about the health of their birds should contact their vet, and if they suspect disease amongst their birds they must report it immediately to the DEFRA Rural Services Helpline on 03000 200 301.
Members of the public are asked not to touch dead wild birds, but instead to report them to the Defra helpline (03459 33 55 77).
APHA runs a free disease alerts service for bird keepers. You can sign up at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/apha-alert-subscription-service.
For more information about bird flu, including symptoms of the disease and best practice advice, please visit https://www.gov.uk/guidance/avian-influenza-bird-flu