Defra has extended its Avian Influenza (AI) Prevention Zone across the whole of England after 6 outbreaks of the H5N6 virus have been confirmed among wild birds in recent weeks.
A local Prevention Zone was declared in the area on Friday 12th January after AI was confirmed in Dorset, but was extended last week as a precaution after the virus also appeared in Warwickshire. A housing order is currently being considered.
The prevention zone is in place until further notice and kept under regular review.
There is more information online.
Biosecurity measures against Avian Influenza
All poultry keepers, whether commercial or “backyard” enthusiasts, are legally required to follow strict biosecurity procedures to protect their flocks and these measures have increased since the threat level was raised from low to medium this month:
- Keep wild birds away from your birds, e.g. by netting ponds and removing food sources.
- Feed and water your birds in enclosed areas.
- Minimise movement in and out of bird enclosures.
- Clean and disinfect footwear.
- Keep accommodation clean and tidy.
- Reduce existing contamination by cleansing and disinfecting concrete areas and fencing off wet areas.
Keepers with more than 500 birds must take extra biosecurity measures, including restricting access to non-essential people, changing clothing and footwear before entering bird enclosures and cleaning and disinfecting vehicles.
We are also doing our bit at Humphreys Feed and Pullets:
- A foot mat is used at the base of our mill stairs
- We are using our lorry disinfection sprayer on all vehicles.
- Drivers wear protective clothing, which is disposed of on farms.
- Drivers are disinfecting at farms and when leaving our site.
Some good news
There are no plans currently to carry out any culls or impose movement restrictions.
Also, this outbreak has occurred much later in the season than last year so even if a housing order was to be imposed now, we will reach the end of the migratory cycles before we reach the point at which free range eggs are no longer able to be marketed as such. The poultry and free range egg sectors will not be as seriously affected as they were in 2017.
Reporting bird flu
Despite the good news, it is incumbent upon all of us to remain vigilant - poultry keepers and members of the public are asked to report dead wild birds to the Defra helpline, 03459 33 55 77. Keepers should report suspicion of disease to the Animal and Plant Health Agency on 0300 0200 301.
Situation updates are available here.