NFU Scotland welcomes mandatory legislation to tackle Avian Influenza

NFU Scotland welcomes mandatory legislation to tackle Avian Influenza

National Farmers’ Union (NFU) Scotland has welcomed the announcement of new legislation requiring all bird keepers to register their flocks.

Robert Thompson, chair of the NFU Scotland Poultry Working Group.

The mandatory requirement follows a long-running campaign driven by the “continued threat” of Avian Influenza to Scottish poultry, and orders all bird keepers, large or small, to ensure they have registered their flocks.

NFUS said it had long been calling for the UK and Scottish Governments to review the current poultry register and make it “fit for purpose”. Currently only flocks of more than 50 birds are required to be registered, whilst many much smaller backyard flocks exist and have potential impacts on disease control.

From 1st September 2024, anyone, even if they only have one bird outdoors, will need to register.

Robert Thompson, NFU Scotland’s Poultry Working Group chair, said: “The unprecedented Avian Influenza outbreak in October 2021, and year-on-year cases since then highlighted the importance of a proper poultry register. We are delighted that Scottish and UK Governments have committed to implementing a register that all bird keepers must keep updated.

“The new register will be online and will be simple for all keepers, including those with commercial poultry flocks, to keep records up to date. By registering, owners will receive crucial updates and guidance for bird care, including any disease alerts and depending on the threat from Avian Influenza, potentially housing orders.”

Thompson continued: “During previous Avian Influenza outbreaks, it has been very difficult for official vets to communicate directly with small backyard keepers to make them aware of temporary heightened disease control measures designed to protect public and animal health and the wider economy.

“Having accurate records of where all poultry are kept will simplify surveillance in disease control zones, helping eradication, reducing the labour needed to demonstrate disease freedom and allow affected areas to be lifted more quickly out of any restrictions.

“That will allow us to help keep all flocks, big and small, as healthy as possible.”

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