COUNCIL POSTS BIRD FLU GUIDANCE UPDATE
The Council of the Isles of Scilly has posted an update to the recent announcement of an Avian Flu Prevention Zone.
It has contacted the Animal and Plant Health Agency for clarification on the situation on Scilly, where local keepers have been moving their birds indoors to avoid the possibility of infection.
A Facebook post from a local farmer earlier this week reported DEFRA as telling them that 'if one single bird gets the flu the whole of the islands' chickens, ducks, turkeys etc whether it be domestic or anything that can be caught will be destroyed'.
The poster went on: 'As you can well imagine this will have a disastrous effect on our livelihoods so please can we request that any poultry owners adhere to this mandatory instruction.'
The Council update released yesterday reads: 'It is inadvisable on welfare grounds to attempt to house geese and ducks for extended periods and so other provisions may need to be made to reduce risk from potential sources of infection.
'The main disease risk comes from infected wild birds, particularly; wild fowl and water fowl, including seabirds. If it is impractical to house birds (including hens) then people are still required to take reasonable steps to protect their flocks or birds.
'As a minimum we recommend that feeding stations are protected to their prevent food and water being shared by wild birds. This will minimise the likelihood of infection via an identified risk point.
'The key is for owners/keepers to take reasonable steps to protect their flocks or birds from potential sources of infection. Ultimately the welfare of the birds is paramount and nothing should knowingly be done that would seriously impact on their welfare.
'That doesn’t mean that keepers can ignore the protection zone order. Ideally, chickens would be housed or contained within an enclosure inaccessible to wild bird species, but if this really isn’t possible or practicable then owners should do what they can by arranging feeding stations as described.
'If the larger flock owners are complying with the order then they will have minimised the risk to their own flocks and therefore any non-compliance by others would be less likely to create a risk to their flocks.
'Something everyone should be aware of is risk represented by the movement of people and vehicles between premises. Infected material adhering to footwear or vehicle tyres for example is a likely source of infection.'