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10 January 2017 13:55:45 |Animal Health,News,Poultry

Vets urge 'keep backyard flocks safe' as more Avian Flu cases confirmed across UK

Private poultry keepers are faced with changing the way they usually keep their birds

Private poultry keepers are faced with changing the way they usually keep their birds

The British Veterinary Association (BVA) have urged backyard poultry keepers to protect their flocks with 'practical biosecurity' steps.
This follows the announcement that the Avian Influenza Prevention Zones across Great Britain, in place since early December, will be extended until 28 February.
Over the last week, there have been several confirmed cases of the H5N8 strain of Avian Influenza in wild birds and backyard flocks in Carmarthenshire, Yorkshire and at a swannery in Dorset.
BVA President, Gudrun Ravetz, said the confirmation of Avian Influenza in a number of small flocks shows the 'very real risk' that the disease poses to backyard flocks and the importance of keeping them separate from wild birds.
He said: “We know that not all backyard keepers will have to hand buildings that they can immediately house their flocks in, so Defra’s leaflet gives practicable advice on alternatives, including temporary structures.

“Biosecurity is also as important to smallholders and hobby keepers of birds as it is to large scale and commercial poultry keepers. Tight biosecurity, such as maintaining high levels of cleanliness and hygiene and not allowing visitors to come close to your birds, is essential.
“Signs of avian flu can vary between species of bird and could range from very mild signs like seeming ‘off colour’ or reduced feed or water intakes through to the severity of death. If you are concerned about your flock, please speak to your local vet.”
As private poultry keepers are faced with changing the way they usually keep their birds, the BVA have offered advice on ways in which keepers can separate captive birds and backyard flocks from wild birds.
BVA's recommendations
• Read and act on Defra’s Avian Flu factsheet designed for keepers of small flocks of poultry, which includes advice on protecting birds
• If you do not have a permanent building to house your birds in, think how you could adapt an outbuilding, such as a shed, or erect a temporary structure like a polytunnel using netting to prevent contact with wild birds – the key is to stop contact between wild birds and your flock
• Think of your flock’s welfare while the prevention zone is in place: check for and remove any hazardous substances from any building where you are housing your birds; make sure there is natural light; and that the environment is interesting to reduce the risk of feather pecking by, for example, adding straw bales and perches

• Remember that good biosecurity reduces the risk of infection: keep food and water supplies indoors where they cannot be contaminated by wild birds; feed your birds indoors and keep them away from standing water; keep movement in and out of enclosures to a minimum and scrupulously clean footwear before and after visits.

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