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Vigilance still needed for avian flu

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By Fiona Reid
Farming
Vigilance still needed for avian flu

A CALL has been made to all smallholders and keepers of backyard flocks to sign up to the Poultry Register.

The Avian Influenza (AI) situation continues to cause huge concern and all flock owners in Scotland – large and small – are reminded that they must house birds and adhere to biosecurity measures at this time.

Although the Protection and Surveillance zones associated with infections recorded in Dumfriesshire earlier this winter have now all been lifted from affected premises, there remains a prevention zone across the whole of the UK which requires all poultry to be housed and biosecurity measures to be strictly observed.

The AI risk remains extreme, cases in wild birds are still being seen regularly across the country, particularly among geese on the Solway, with high infectivity associated with the strain.

Given the unprecedented level of threat posed by Avian Influenza to commercial flocks, the NFUS is urging all keepers of poultry, including to those backyard flocks and smallholders with under 50 birds, to register with the poultry register at www.gov.uk/government/publications/poultry-including-game-birds-registration-rules-and-forms to receive up-to-date warnings and notifications affecting their birds. It will also aid the Government vets to monitor the spread of infection and identify at risk holdings.

NFU Scotland’s poultry policy manager Penny Middleton said: “The Avian Influenza situation continues to cause huge concern.

“Unfortunately, it is apparent from anecdotal reports, that non-compliance with the housing order remains commonplace in backyard or garden flocks and that places the whole Scottish poultry industry at an unacceptable risk.”

And she reminded anyone finding a dead bird, while out walking, to report them to Defra’s national telephone helpline: 03459 33 55 77 (and select option 7), adding: “Let’s all do our bit to help those who supply Scotland with our eggs and poultry meat.”

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