NFU Scotland calls on bird keepers to join Poultry Register amid bird flu outbreak
National Farmers’ Union (NFU) Scotland has asked all smallholders and keepers of backyard flocks to sign up to the Poultry Register to monitor the spread of avian influenza (AI).
The union said that registering will aid government vets to monitor the spread of infection and identify at risk holdings.
NFU Scotland said that the 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 Scotland 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.
According to NFU Scotland, AI risk remains extreme and cases in wild birds are still being seen regularly across the country with high infectivity associated with the strain. Thousands of wild geese on the Solway coast in Dumfries and Galloway have already died during the AI outbreak. The union said that the need for continued vigilance across all of Scotland is necessary as traditional migration patterns will soon see geese start to migrate north and east across Scotland to areas like Loch Leven and the East Coast.
NFU Scotland is calling for all non-essential inspections on poultry units to be conducted virtually at this time. The union will be contacting the Scottish government highlighting “the willingness of the industry to cooperate fully with virtual inspections until the risk period is past.”
“An unacceptable risk”
NFU Scotland’s poultry policy manager Penny Middleton said: “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. All bird keepers, whether you only have one or two hens or thousands, must keep birds indoors and follow strict biosecurity measures to limit the spread and eradicate the disease.”