In response to the growing number of cases on mainland Europe, Scottish Government declared yesterday (December 6) an Avian Influenza Prevention Zone requiring that all poultry and captive birds in Scotland must be kept indoors, or otherwise kept separate from wild birds, for the next 30 days. Similar measures have been put in place south of the Border.
This precautionary step has been taken in response to multiple reports of a strain of highly pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) H5N8 causing high mortality in wild birds in mainland Europe, mostly affecting waterfowl. There have been no cases of this strain detected in the UK.
Within the Zone, bird keepers are legally obliged to take all practicable steps to ensure that poultry and other captive birds are kept separate from wild birds - in most cases this will be by keeping birds housed.
Scottish poultry keepers have, in the past few weeks, attended roadshow meetings where biosecurity measures and good practice regarding the threat of HPAI have been discussed.
Penny Johnston, Animal Health and Welfare Policy Manager for NFU Scotland commented: “Scottish poultry keepers are up to speed on the current threat posed by the presence of HPAI on mainland Europe and the recent well-attended roadshows have brought everyone up to date on the biosecurity measures and contingency plans they should be employing to keep their flocks as safe as possible.
“Looking at the spread of HPAI across Europe, it is clear that there is a high risk of infection in wild migratory fowl, posing a risk of cross infection into our commercial birds. The decision taken by the Scottish Government is sensible, given the risk, and producers will play their part.
“NFU Scotland will continue to monitor the situation and update producers of any changes to the risk status and advice but in the meantime, we urge all poultry keepers to comply with the restriction notice, tighten biosecurity and be aware of the potentially increased risks from wild birds.”