Hillside Veterinary Centre

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146 Crewe Road, Nantwich, Cheshire, CW5 6NB
Telephone: 01270 625310

 

Backyard Poultry

AVIAN INFLUENZA (bird flu)

Poultry keepers across Great Britain must now keep chickens, hens, ducks and turkeys housed indoors where practicable, or keep them separate from wild birds. For farmed geese, gamebirds and other captive birds where housing is less practicable, keepers must take steps to keep them separate from wild birds.

This is because on 6 December 2016 Defra, the Scottish Government and the Welsh Government announced Avian Influenza Prevention Zones to help protect poultry from a highly pathogenic strain of avian flu present in Europe. The zones cover the whole of England, Scotland and Wales. They will remain in place for 30 days (until 6 January).

Backyard flocks

The Prevention Zones requires all poultry and captive birds, including backyard flocks and other captive birds, to be housed or, where it is not practicable to do so, requires steps to be taken to keep them separate from wild birds. If you keep your birds near your home, consider housing them in alternative accommodation, such as a garden building, a garage or redundant building that could be adapted to house your birds temporarily.

Remember to check for, and remove, hazardous and toxic substances such as rat bait, and make sure the birds have access to water and somewhere to perch. You must also practice good biosecurity - for example disinfecting footwear and equipment and washing clothing after contact with birds..

How to spot avian influenza

There are 2 types of avian influenza.

Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) is the more serious type. It is often fatal in birds. The main clinical signs of HPAI in birds are:

  • swollen head
  • blue discolouration of neck and throat
  • loss of appetite
  • respiratory distress such as gaping beak, coughing, sneezing, gurgling, rattling
  • diarrhoea
  • fewer eggs laid
  • increased mortality

Clinical signs can vary between species of bird and some species may show minimal clinical signs (ducks and geese).

Low pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI) is usually less serious. It can cause mild breathing problems, but affected birds will not always show clear signs of infection.

 

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