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Community / Lockdown for poultry as government steps up measures to prevent spread of bird flu

Bird keepers legally required to keep birds indoors

Poultry will have to be kept indoors from 14 December. Photo: Shetland News

POULTRY and other captive birds will have to be kept indoors as of Monday 14 December in an attempt to prevent the spread of bird flu.

The Scottish Government said it is working closely with the UK and the Welsh governments in introducing new measures following a number of cases of avian influenza in both wild and captive birds in the UK.

The risk of incursion of avian flu has been increased to very high for wild birds and medium for poultry with high biosecurity and high for poultry with poor biosecurity.

Veterinary officers are encouraging bird keepers to use the next days to prepare for new housing measures, including taking steps to safeguard animal welfare, consult their vet and where necessary put up additional housing.

Locally, staff at Harbro, who are registered animal medicines advisors (RAMA), can also be contacted for advice.

Keepers are advised to be vigilant for any signs of disease in their birds and any wild birds, and seek prompt advice from their vet if they have any concerns.

They can help prevent avian flu by maintaining good biosecurity on their premises, including:

  • housing or netting all poultry and captive birds;
  • cleansing and disinfecting clothing, footwear, equipment and vehicles before and after contact with poultry and captive birds – if practical, use disposable protective clothing;
  • reducing the movement of people, vehicles or equipment to and from areas where poultry and captive birds are kept, to minimise contamination from manure, slurry and other products, and using effective vermin control;
  • thoroughly cleaning and disinfecting housing at the end of a production cycle
  • keeping fresh disinfectant at the right concentration at all points where people should use it, such as farm entrances and before entering poultry and captive bird housing or enclosures;
  • minimising direct and indirect contact between poultry and captive birds and wild birds, including making sure all feed and water is not accessible to wild birds.

A joint statement from Great Britain’s three chief veterinary officers said: “We have taken swift action to limit the spread of the disease and are now planning to introduce a legal requirement for all poultry and captive bird keepers to keep their birds housed or otherwise separate from wild birds.

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

“We have not taken this decision lightly, but it is the best way to protect your birds from this highly infectious disease.”

They stress that avian influenza is in no way connected to the COVID-19 pandemic, which is caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus and is not carried in poultry or captive birds.

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