RSPCA reminds keepers of poultry and other captive birds to be vigilant after outbreaks of Avian Flu.

The RSPCA is urging people with birds to follow Government measures to limit the spread of bird flu after a number of confirmed outbreaks of the virus this winter.

Keepers of poultry and other captive birds* across England and Wales must follow biosecurity advice to help limit the spread of the disease following confirmed cases in captive birds in Kent, Cheshire, Herefordshire, Gloucestershire, Leicestershire and North Yorkshire, plus several more confirmed cases in wild birds.

Siân Phillips, poultry welfare specialist at the RSPCA said: “Keeping hens has become more and more popular in recent years so it’s really important that owners follow Government biosecurity advice to help protect the health of their birds as well as to try and limit the spread of the virus.

“All pet poultry owners need to stay vigilant for signs of disease and ill health in their flocks and it’s vital they seek veterinary advice if they have any concerns for their birds.

“It’s also really important to report any suspected outbreaks of avian influenza to Defra. We would encourage all pet poultry owners to register their birds with the APHA so they can contact owners if there’s a disease outbreak in their area.”

All the information owners need to know is available on Defra’s website. For the latest updates from the Welsh Government visit their website.

Siân added: “Bird keepers of any scale must pay attention to Government advice. In addition to the legal advice, there is a simple guide providing good practice advice to help backyard flock keepers to protect their birds from avian influenza.”

We recommend that the owners of all captive birds follow the Government’s biosecurity advice as all species of birds are susceptible, including pigeons, birds of prey and aviary birds like finches.

If you suspect any type of avian influenza you must report it immediately by calling the Defra Rural Services Helpline on 03000 200 301.

Find out more about avian influenza and the restrictions and guidelines in England by visiting DEFRA’s website. Keepers should ensure they seek advice relevant to the species of birds they keep.

This advice applies to any keeper of poultry or other captive birds, irrespective of how they are kept. All keepers are therefore advised to check their responsibilities on the Defra website.

*Other captive bird means a bird kept in captivity which is not poultry and includes a pet bird and a bird kept for shows, races, exhibitions, competitions, breeding or for sale.

You can exercise, train and race pigeons or fly birds of prey, but efforts need to be made to prevent them coming in direct contact with wildfowl and it is important that you monitor the health of your birds closely.

Anyone involved in game birds should consult advice published by the Game Farmers Association website (PDF).