As the longer nights of autumn approach, poultry farmers across the UK are being urged to remain vigilant and to take action to reduce the risk of bird flu to their flocks in the coming months.
Last winter bird flu was found in 13 UK flocks which ranged in size from as few as nine birds to as many as 65,000 birds. Over recent months we have seen a decline in the number of new cases and the UK declared disease freedom on 13th September. However, the disease is known to still be circulating in poultry flocks on mainland Europe and was recently confirmed in a dead mute swan in Norfolk.
In light of this ongoing risk, particularly as we move towards colder winter months, the four UK farming unions have been working together with government and the UK Poultry Health and Welfare Group to highlight the importance of maintaining high levels of on-farm biosecurity. To this end, the UFU are encouraging all producers to attend the Avian Influenza Roadshow at Greenmount on 6th October 2017. The event is free to attend and registration can be completed via the NFU website at the following link www.nfuonline.com/sectors/poultry/poultry-news/avian-influenza-roadshows/.
If you are unable to attend, all keepers regardless of size can play their part in getting ahead of the disease this winter by taking some simple steps to reduce the risk of disease before the autumn migration of birds begins:
Keep the area where birds live clean and tidy, control rats and mice and regularly disinfect any hard surfaces.
Clean footwear before and after visits.
Place birds’ food and water in fully enclosed areas that are protected from wild birds, and remove any spilled feed regularly.
Put fencing around outdoor areas where birds are allowed and limit their access to ponds or areas visited by wild waterfowl.
Ensure you register your flock with DAERA to ensure that you can be contacted quickly in the event of an outbreak to enable you to take further protective measures at the earliest possible opportunity https://www.daera-ni.gov.uk/publications/bird-registration-form.
The UFU’s poultry committee is keen to highlight that an outbreak of Avian Influenza in a backyard flock will lead to the same restrictions on industry as in a commercial flock, so protecting birds whether you have 10 or 10,000 is vitally important to protecting the wider industry both locally and internationally.