Many race organisers have received communication from APHA regarding Newcastle’s Disease and the requirement to complete the enclosed document. However, I have been communicating with DEFRA over the last two days and established that completion of the declaration is NOT mandatory as far as pigeon gatherings are concerned but is recommended.
However, as a result of outbreaks of Newcastle’s disease in Belgium, Luxemburg and the Netherlands please refer to the following statement/requirements issued by APHA/DEFRA.
Failure to comply will place at risk future races and gathering of pigeons.
Please note that there are currently no outbreaks in France and therefore the are no limitations in respect of birds that have raced from France in the last 21 days as has been suggested and widely rumoured.
Messages for Newcastle Disease(Paramyxo Virus) Stakeholders
- Several recently reported outbreaks of Newcastle Disease in commercial poultry and smallholder flocks in Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg
- The Animal and Plant Health Agency experts have advised that the risk of a disease outbreak in Great Britain has risen from low to medium meaning ‘outbreak likely to occur’
- Urge all poultry keepers, especially keepers of commercial, game birds, specialist and backyard/pet chickens, and pigeon keepers to keep an eye on your birds for the clinical signs of Newcastle Disease.
- As the disease develops affected birds may show some of the following signs. The most severe signs will appear in fully susceptible birds i.e. unvaccinated birds or those with poor vaccine protection:
o respiratory distress such as open-beak breathing, coughing, sneezing, gurgling, rattling
o nervous signs characterised by tremors and paralysis and twisting of the neck
o unusually watery faeces (diarrhoea) that are yellowish-green in colour
o lack of appetite
o Affected birds may also suddenly produce fewer eggs. Eggs that are laid may be misshapen and soft-shelled.
o Disease may be severe resulting in dramatic mortality in a large proportion of birds. Or it may have a lesser affect, with breathing problems and lower egg production being the only detectable clinical signs.
The Defra news release on the raising of the risk level for Newcastle Disease across GB is available at this page.
The Animal and Plant Health Agency Preliminary Outbreak Assessment is available at this page.
Advice – hobby flocks, pet chickens, other captive birds and racing pigeons
- Be aware of the clinical signs of Newcastle Disease (see above) and keep an eye on your birds for any signs of ill health – call your vet if worried
- Keep a separate set of clothing and footwear to visit your birds and use disinfectant footbaths where practical
- Keep all new birds physically separate in a quarantined area away from your existing birds for 10 days
- Know where your new birds are coming from and whether they’ve been vaccinated.
- We urge caution about receiving birds from Belgium and the Low Countries at present
- If you’re attending races/shows/sales or other gatherings with your birds, please follow the biosecurity requirements on
o Don’t take your birds to a show or race gathering if you have any concern over their health
o ensure your birds are fit and healthy before you leave
o keep transporting vehicles and crates/baskets clean and disinfected;
o have clean clothing and footwear to attend the gathering or if visiting another keeper’s birds;
o Ensure proper disposal of litter and bedding
o Do not share water or feed bowls with other exhibitors
o Bring your own water and feed supplies to the gathering.
o Avoid unnecessary handling of birds
o Wash your hands with soap and water after handling your own birds and before handling other people’s birds
o Make use of disinfectant mats on entering and leaving bird areas.
o Ensure you leave your correct contact and bird location details with the show organisers, in case you need to be contacted.