Good news for bird owners in England and Wales – the Avian Influenza housing order has been lifted! After five months of being housed indoors, pet owners can finally let their birds back outside, although with some conditions…
Strict biosecurity measures will still be in place and some areas of England and Wales will continue to be under surveillance zones which means different rules may apply. The RSPCA strongly recommends that owners and keepers follow fully the UK and Welsh Government’s advice for their area.
Kate Norman, a poultry expert at the RSPCA, said: “Many pet owners with hens, cockerels, ducks, and other birds will be pleased that they can now let their pets back outside as the housing order has been lifted.”
“Keeping hens has become increasingly popular in recent years so it’s important that owners follow governmental biosecurity advice, staying vigilant for signs of disease and ill health in their flocks, and seeking veterinary advice if they have any concerns for their birds.”
Before letting their birds back outside, pet owners should:
- Fence off areas of standing water or ponds that may attract wild birds
- Check the outside run for any wild bird carcases, feathers or droppings
- Put measures in place to deter wild birds such as bird scarers, foils and streamers
- Keep any food or water under cover so wild birds are not attracted
- Clean and disinfect objects birds will have access to in the outside run, where possible
Kate added: “It’s also important to report any suspected outbreaks of avian influenza to Defra. We would encourage all pet poultry owners to register their birds with the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) so they can contact owners if there’s a disease outbreak in their area.”
As all birds have been housed indoors since November last year, they could become stressed or scared when they are first let outside. So, the RSPCA is also urging owners to take steps to make pets feel safer outdoors.
Kate said: “Giving outside access after so long being housed indoors could be stressful for them at first so it’s important that steps are taken to help your pets transition to life outside the coop once more. This includes providing shelter and cover for them to use in outdoor areas to provide a sense of security, and making sure that you’re introducing them to outside areas gradually.”
For more information on what bird keepers need to do, please visit Defra’s website.
For those who are looking to bring a new pet bird into their lives. Visit www.rspca.org.uk/findapet for more information.
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