Bird keepers required to take action to reduce bird flu risk

13 November 2020 Bird keepers required to take action to reduce bird flu risk
Bird keepers across Cambridgeshire are being urged to follow strict national measures put in place by the Government to help keep their own birds and the wild bird population safe.

Following confirmation of a number of cases of Avian Influenza (also known as bird flu) in England, an Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) has been declared across the whole of England to help stop the disease spreading. This means that bird keepers are now legally required to take a number of precautions, whether they run commercial poultry businesses or have a small flock in their back garden.

Keepers with more than 500 birds must restrict access for non-essential people on their sites, workers will need to change clothing and footwear before entering bird enclosures and site vehicles will need to be cleaned and disinfected regularly.

Backyard owners with smaller numbers of poultry including chickens, ducks and geese are also urged to strengthen the measures put in place to protect their birds. This includes making sure the birds’ living area is clean, avoiding keeping ducks and geese with other poultry species where possible, putting fencing around any outdoor areas which wild birds can access and keeping a close watch on birds for any signs of disease, and reporting any very sick birds or unexplained deaths to a vet.

The prevention zone means that all bird keepers must: Ensure the areas where birds are kept are unattractive to wild birds, for example by netting ponds, and by removing wild bird food sources;Feed and water their birds in enclosed areas to discourage wild birds;Minimise movement in and out of bird enclosures;Clean and disinfect footwear and keep areas where birds live clean and tidy;Reduce any existing contamination by cleansing and disinfecting concrete areas, and fencing off wet or boggy areas.  Councillor Steve Criswell, chairman of the communities and partnership committee at Cambridgeshire County Council, said: “Although there haven’t been any confirmed cases of bird flu locally as yet, it is really important that bird keepers across the county follow the measures put in place by the Government, whether you just have a few chickens in your back garden or keep poultry commercially on a farm. 

“It’s really important for us to help protect bird keepers and the wild bird population, so we are asking everyone who looks after poultry to keep a close eye on them for any signs of disease and stay on top of their cleaning and working practices. 

“I would like to stress that the risk to public health is very low, and properly cooked poultry and poultry products, including eggs, are still safe to eat according to the Food Standards Agency.” Bird keepers should see the AIPZ declaration on GOV.UK for full details of which measures apply in the AIPZ. Updated guidance for all bird keepers is also available on GOV.UK.   All bird keepers are encouraged to register their poultry, even if only kept as pets, so the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) can contact them during an outbreak. This is a legal requirement if you have 50 or more birds.  
Poultry keepers and members of the public should report dead waterfowl (swans, geese or ducks) or other dead wild birds, such as gulls or birds of prey, to the Defra helpline (03459 33 55 77) and keepers should report suspicion of disease to APHA on 03000 200 301.

APHA runs a free disease alerts service for bird keepers. You can sign up at

For more information about bird flu, including the best practice advice, please visit   
ENDS For further information: Please contact Cambridgeshire County Council communications team on: 01223 699281 or email:   For further/alternative political comment contact:   Cllr Steve Criswell, Chairman of the Communities and Partnership Committee (Cons) (01480 740745)   Cllr Lina Nieto – Vice-chairman of the Communities and Partnership Committee (07402 351821)   Cllr Barbara Ashwood – Lead Member of the Liberal Democrat Group for the Communities and Partnership Committee (01223 842629)   Cllr Elisa Meschini – Lead Member of the Labour Group for the Communities and Partnership Committee (01223 438195)   Cllr Simone Taylor – Lead Member of the Independent Group for the Communities and Partnership Committee (07858 032076)   In an emergency or serious incident Cambridgeshire County Council communications team can be contacted out of hours on: 07833 480 348   Follow us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram or visit