Friday, 19 January 2018

Avian Flu Prevention Zone 2018 - Our Action Plan

Yesterday, as soon as we heard about the Avian Influenza Prevention Zone being implemented in England, I started to put into place the processes that we have planned for since the end of the last 'lockdown'.

I grabbed my camera and made a video of our action plan and what we are doing on our little smallholding because although we live in Wales, we are close to the border and I expect the Welsh government to follow suit before too long (as they did last year).

I made a couple of errors in my video and the guidance is that poultry keepers that have over 500 birds have to take additional measures, NOT the much higher figure that I give in the video. Our action plan we hope complies to the rules for those with less than 500 birds.

Last year there seemed to be a great deal of confusion about whether the Prevention Zone applied to backyard poultry keepers or those with just a few pets. This year DEFRA have been much clearer in their instructions and state that it applies to all poultry owners whether kept as pets or livestock.

So far, (as at midday 19th January 2018) there is not a complete lockdown, there are increased biosecurity measures needed, but as I read the guidance of what we need to do, all areas to which birds have access must be enclosed by netting to prevent contact with wild birds - so this surely must include netting overhead or the wild birds could just fly into the poultry areas.

We have spent the year with the chicken pens looking increasingly like a scene from Glastonbury festival, with tented covers billowing around in the wind, but I am comfortable that their areas will be secure enough for them to be able to have some access to outside even should a total lockdown be announced. The pens have been covered from above for a while now.

For full information about the AI Prevention Zone and the latest situation, see DEFRA Prevention Zone information https://www.gov.uk/guidance/avian-influenza-bird-flu#prevention-zone

The Welsh Government have just posted this statement to their site - no prevention zone at the moment. http://gov.wales/topics/environmentcountryside/ahw/disease/avianflu/?lang=en

But as we live so close to England I'm going to work on the basis that wild birds don't actually know about the border between the two countries and continue to get everything covered up.

I'm rather sad to see us have to use the covered runs and all the other biosecurity measures, I had hoped that this year we would get to spring and think 'well all of that hard work was a waste of time', as it turns out it wasn't wasted time, it was work well done. As Christmas came and went and there was no sign of bird flu in Britain I became increasingly cheerful that our bird population were not going to be hit by it.

Anyway, I think it's time for a cuppa!