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New Avian Influenza Prevention Zone announced

Last updated: 28 Feb 2017
Chickens feeding from trough_12298
*The new prevention zone and the measures below are now in place and must be adhered to by all poultry keepers.*

The Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs has announced a new Avian Influenza Prevention Zone, in place from 28 February until 30 April.

Lesley Griffiths has also confirmed there will be some important changes to the measures that will apply within the new all-Wales Prevention Zone.  

The current Prevention Zone requires all keepers of poultry and other captive birds to keep their birds indoors or take all appropriate steps to keep them separate from wild birds, and to enhance biosecurity. This follows a number of confirmed cases of Avian Flu across the UK, including in a backyard flock of chicken and ducks near Pontyberem, Carmarthenshire. 

Expert advice suggests it is unlikely the current level of risk will change before the current Prevention Zone is scheduled to end on 28 February. In view of this, and following consultation with industry and veterinary representatives, the Cabinet Secretary has decided to put in place a new Prevention Zone, that will take effect from midnight on 28 February.

The new Avian Influenza Prevention Zone requires all keepers to complete the Welsh Government Avian Influenza Prevention Zone Self Assessment Form of biosecurity measures on their premises. The objective being to keep domestic flocks totally separate from wild birds by continuing to keep birds housed or using other measures, which may include permitting controlled access to outside areas, subject to the introduction of additional risk mitigation measures

Clare Morgan, Poultry Board Chairman said: “We welcome this announcement from the Cabinet Secretary that provides a proportionate response to the disease risk posed and gives clarity to the industry on the situation in Wales.

“Importantly the conditions around the new Prevention Zone provide the opportunity, subject to meeting the appropriate conditions, for producers to maintain the free range status of their flocks. All producers now need to carefully consider the options open to them, undertake the risk assessment process that has been developed by Welsh Government and put in place the appropriate risk mitigation measures.

“In particular, producers who decide to let their flocks outside should use the next fortnight to prepare their range accordingly in line with the advice by provided by Welsh Government.

“We would highlight that this is a process that all poultry producers, no matter the size of their flock, must undertake to ensure that everyone does their utmost to minimize the risk of this disease getting into the Welsh poultry flock.

“The free range poultry industry is important to the Welsh agricultural industry. Hundreds of Welsh farmers have invested heavily in free range poultry units to provide meat and eggs, which are in high demand by the British public. We would urge all keepers of poultry, including backyard flocks, to undertake the assessment without delay.”

All keepers of poultry and other captive birds must complete an assessment of their premises and then ensure they adopt one or more of the following:

•    house their birds
•    keep totally separate from wild birds by use of netting etc.
•    allow controlled access to outside areas subject to applying additional risk mitigation measures

This places the onus on the keeper to select the best option most applicable to their circumstances to protect their birds. It also permits poultry keepers to continue to house their birds should they wish to do so voluntarily or if they wish to allow their birds back outside (to protect their free range status) they must ensure that the additional risk mitigation measures are complied with.  

In addition to whichever option chosen all keepers of poultry and other captive birds must also ensure that:

• wild birds cannot access feed and water intended for poultry and other captive birds.
• any person who comes into contact with poultry and other captive birds must take all reasonable precautions to avoid the transfer of contamination between premises, including cleansing and disinfection of equipment, vehicles and footwear;
• steps are taken to reduce the movement of people, vehicles or equipment to and from areas where poultry or captive birds are kept to minimise contamination between premises;
• vermin control programmes are implemented, including making the area and buildings where poultry or captive birds are kept inaccessible and unattractive to wild birds;
• housing and equipment is thoroughly cleansed and disinfected at the end of a production cycle;
• the area / range and buildings where poultry or captive birds are kept is regularly checked for signs of wild bird access, kept clean; 
• disinfectant, at the right concentration, is kept at all points where people should use it, such as farm entrances and before entering poultry housing or enclosures;
• domestic waterfowl (ducks and geese) are kept separately to, and cannot make contact with, other domestic species;
• Ensure that the site is regularly inspected and kept clean, any spillages are immediately cleaned

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