South Scotland SNP MSP Emma Harper is raising awareness of the new measures from the Scottish Government’s Chief Veterinary Officer, in light of the Avian Flu outbreak, and has urged bird keepers to review the biosecurity of their housed birds and to comply with the new #Flockdown measures.

The new bird housing measures, which came into force at the beginning of this week (13/12/21), mean that it is now a legal requirement for all bird keepers across the UK – regardless of flock size – to keep their birds indoors and to follow strict biosecurity measures in order to limit the spread of, and eradicate, Avian Flu.

Wild birds migrating to the UK from mainland Europe during the winter months can carry the disease and this can lead to cases in poultry and other captive birds. Indeed, Ms Harper has pointed out that cases have been identified across Dumfries and Galloway and has therefore encouraged extra vigilance.

Ms Harper has also highlighted that Scottish public health advice remains that the risk to human health from Avian Flu is very low and that food standards bodies advise that it poses a very low food safety risk for Scottish consumers.

However, the South Scotland MSP emphasised the importance of people not touching or picking up any dead or sick birds they find and has encouraged people to report sick and dead birds to the national Avian Flu Hotline: 03459 33 55 77.

It is important to note that there is no impact on the consumption of properly cooked poultry products, including eggs.

Commenting, Ms Harper said:
“Over the last 18 months we have all had to comply with continuing and ever changing lockdown restrictions and now it is time for our bird keepers – regardless of flock size – to ensure their birds are doing the same. Although the Scottish Government’s public health advice is that there is a very low risk to the public and to our food supply chain of Avian Flu, I am encouraging all bird keepers across Dumfries and Galloway to follow the #Flockdown protective measures which are in place for Avian Flu, particularly given that we have had a number of cases across the region.

“I welcome that the joint Chief Veterinary Officers of Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and England have taken swift action to limit the spread of Avian Flu and they have now introduced a legal requirement for all poultry and captive bird keepers to keep their birds housed or otherwise separate from wild birds. in addition, keepers must continue taking extra precautions to keep their flocks safe. This includes regularly cleaning and disinfecting equipment, clothing and vehicles when entering or exiting sites and limiting access to non-essential workers or visitors.

“I have been contacted by a constituent who used to work in animal disease managed. My constituent expressed the importance of people not touching or trying to manage sick or dead birds. I agree and therefore want to encourage everyone to report any sick or dead birds to the national Avian Flu Hotline: 03459 33 55 77.”

Poultry keepers must now do the following:

• house or net all poultry and captive birds to keep them separate from wild birds
• cleanse and disinfect clothing, footwear, equipment and vehicles before and after contact with poultry and captive birds – if practical, use disposable protective clothing
• reduce the movement of people, vehicles or equipment to and from areas where poultry and captive birds are kept, to minimise contamination from manure, slurry and other products, and use effective vermin control

• thoroughly cleanse and disinfect housing on a continuous basis
• keep fresh disinfectant at the right concentration at all farm and poultry housing entry and exit points
• minimise direct and indirect contact between poultry and captive birds and wild birds, including making sure all feed and water is not accessible to wild birds

These new housing measures will be kept under regular review as part of the government’s work to protect flocks.