The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) announced today, 7th March, that they will be launching a new consultation on registration rules for all bird keepers in Great Britain.
This consultation will include asking bird keepers their views on making it compulsory, which would also lead to the implementation of updating information annually.
The changes are being suggested to improve the Animal and Plant Health Agency’s response to disease outbreaks, like avian influenza, to aid in the traceability, surveillance and monitoring of birds and their movements, and to enhance biosecurity measures in the poultry sector.
“Proposal is part of government action to tackle avian influenza”
Under current regulations, bird keepers with more than 50 birds are required to register with the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) and provide their contact details and the location of their birds.
The three options being explored within the consultation include keeping compulsory registration at 50 birds, lowering it to ten, or lowering it to one bird. These measures would require owners of backyard flocks, birds of prey and pigeon fanciers to register their birds, but would not extend to pet birds kept inside a domestic dwelling. This means birds primarily kept in cages indoors such as parrots or budgies would not be included.
Encouraging the registration of birds could ensure that keepers receive important updates from APHA about outbreaks, such as avian influenza, as well as information on additional biosecurity rules to protect flocks.
The Chief Veterinary Officers from England, Scotland and Wales said in a joint statement that “These proposals will enable us to have a full picture of the number and location of birds kept across Great Britain and make it easier to track and manage the spread of avian disease.
“This information will also help inform future risk assessments and maintain our commitment to continually building our extensive avian influenza research portfolio.”
The Chief Executive of the British Poultry Council Chief Executive added that they “welcome this consultation as a means of ensuring the GB poultry register is fit to support Government and industry efforts in mitigating the ongoing impacts of avian influenza. Registering your poultry is an effective way of monitoring and controlling the spread of disease to protect the national flock. We, as ever, urge all poultry keepers to remain vigilant for signs of avian influenza in their birds.”
Stringent biosecurity and quick reporting are critical for the prevention of avian influenza
The proposed changes to registration requirements for bird keepers in the UK are an important step in improving the traceability and biosecurity of birds and their movements. The consultation will end at 11:45pm on the 31st May.
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