Veterinary associations have issued advice to backyard poultry keepers and smallholders, following the recent case of avian flu discovered in the Netherlands.

The guidance from the British Veterinary Association (BVA), the British Small Animal Association (BSAVA) and the British Veterinary Poultry Association (BVPA), emphasises prevention as paramount for all keepers of poultry, whether they are large-scale commercial operations or individuals with one or two pet birds.

This is even more critical during the current outbreak of avian flu.

With the risk migrating birds could be carriers of H5N8, advice to backyard keepers and smallholders aims to minimise the threat, which all the vet organisations stress remains low.

Specific biosecurity steps backyard keepers and smallholders should take during the current outbreak include:

  • Protect your domestic birds from contact with wildbirds by housing them indoors such as a shed or outhouse, if possible.
  • Keep your birds away from standingwater and make sure their food and water source are protected from contamination by wild birds.
  • Cleanse and disinfect all accommodation to prevent any disease build-up, including regular changes of bedding.
  • Wear protectiveclothing, such as overalls, and washable boots and consider disinfectant footdips
  • Quarantine any new additions to your flock for one or two weeks to identify the presence of any new diseases
  • Regularlycheck your birds for any sign of ill health and immediately report any concerns to your vet.

BVA president John Blackwell said: “BVA welcomes Defra’s reinforcement of the guidance to poultry keepers following the confirmation of avian flu in Germany and the Netherlands.

“BVA, BSAVA and BVPA want to work together to ensure these messages about biosecurity reach backyard and hobby keepers as well.

“We would encourage poultry keepers to work with their local vets and take their advice on appropriate biosecurity measures if in any doubt.”
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