As a result of Avian Flu incidents across the UK, if you keep poultry (including game birds or as pets), it is now a legal requirement for you to keep your birds indoors or under nets and follow the biosecurity best practice advice at:
Good biosecurity improves the overall health and productivity of your flock by helping keep out poultry diseases such as avian influenza and limiting the spread of disease in an outbreak. This applies just as much if you only have a few birds as pets, or if you have a large commercial flock. An outbreak of bird flu in back garden chickens results in the same restrictions on the movement of birds. It has the same effect on farmers and trade in poultry as an outbreak on a commercial farm.
To ensure good biosecurity, all poultry keepers should:
- minimise movement in and out of bird enclosures
- clean footwear before and after visiting birds, using a DEFRA approved disinfectant at entrances and exits
- clean and disinfect vehicles and equipment that have come into contact with poultry
- keep areas where birds live clean and tidy, and regularly disinfect hard surfaces such as paths and walkways
- humanely control rats and mice
- place birds’ food and water in fully enclosed areas protected from wild birds, and remove any spilled feed regularly
- make sure there is no direct contact with poultry or other captive birds on other neighbouring premises
- avoid keeping ducks and geese with other poultry species, where possible
- keep birds separate from wildlife and wild waterfowl by putting suitable fencing around outdoor areas they access
- keep a close watch on birds for any signs of disease and report any very sick birds or unexplained deaths to your vet
- keep records (other than in a zoo) of all vehicles that enter any part of the premises where poultry are kept and of all people who come into any direct contact with the poultry.
- keep records of all poultry, captive bird and egg movements, have these available to an inspector or veterinary inspector on demand
If you keep more than 500 birds you must take some extra biosecurity measures. They include:
- identifying clearly defined areas where access by non-essential people and vehicles are restricted
- cleaning and disinfecting vehicles, equipment and footwear
- keeping records of vehicles and personnel entering and leaving the live-bird part
You must keep a close watch on your birds for any signs of disease, and must seek prompt advice from your vet if you have any concerns. Do not touch or pick up any dead or visibly sick birds that you find. If you suspect any type of avian influenza you must report it immediately by calling the Defra Rural Services Helpline on 03000 200 301. Failure to do so is an offence.
We strongly recommend that you read the biosecurity guidance which includes details of measures that should be taken in an Avian Influenza Prevention Zone. You should also complete the downloadable biosecurity self-assessment checklist and retain for inspection if requested by representatives from APHA or Local Authorities. Both of these documents can be downloaded at the following link: