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Defra Consultation on Avian Influenza

Consultation launched on new registration rules for all bird keepers in Great Britain

Defra wish to consult on the proposed new registration rules, which would require all bird keepers to register their birds and to update this information annually. The proposal is part of government action to tackle avian influenza.

The new registration rules would apply to all bird keepers in England, Scotland and Wales, no matter how many birds they have (at present only those who keep 50 poultry birds or more are required by law to do so). By registering their birds with the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA), keepers will ensure they receive important updates, such as any local avian influenza outbreaks, and information on biosecurity rules to help protect their flocks from the threat of avian influenza. This will enable the government to communicate with bird keepers quickly and manage potential disease outbreaks, such as avian influenza, to limit the spread. The new rules would cover owners of backyard flocks, birds of prey and pigeon fanciers, but would not affect pet birds kept entirely inside a domestic dwelling, such as a parrot or budgie kept in a cage indoors which never leaves the property other than to visit a vet or another short-term period.

In a joint statement the Chief Veterinary Officers from England, Scotland and Wales said:

“These proposals will enable us to have a full picture of the number and location of birds kept across Great Britain, and make it easier to track and manage the spread of avian disease. This information will also help inform future risk assessments and maintain our commitment to continually building our extensive avian influenza research portfolio.”

The consultation proposals take forward the recommendation from the 2018 Dame Glenys Stacey Review and lessons identified from the 2021/2022 highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1 outbreak and previous HPAI outbreaks. Bird keepers will need to provide information including their contact details, the location where birds are kept and details of the birds (species, number and what they are kept for).

A 12-week joint GB wide consultation will run until the 31st May and is based on a three-tier level of choice – from keeping the rules as they are now (at 50 birds before registration is required), registration for 10 or more birds, or all bird keepers. Defra would like to hear your views on their plans and you can do so by going to their consultation pages

They are also seeking your views on the requirement for all bird keepers to update their information on the register annually.

The RPRA could register their vote against any change in the rules in a block vote, but I do not have the mandate to do so on your behalf. As the regions are due to hold their last meetings before the racing season begins, your club delegates should advise their region secretaries to contact me with your views and I shall vote accordingly, which must be done before the 31st May. I am sure you would agree the rules should remain as they are now, but I would feel more comfortable if I had your mandate.

Chris Sutton



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