Pests, animal nuisance and welfare
Page last updated: 18 Apr 2023
An Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) is in force across the whole of England to mitigate the risk of the disease spreading amongst poultry and captive birds. The zone will be in place until further notice and will be kept under regular review.
The mandatory legal requirement for all bird keepers in England and Wales to keep their birds housed has now been lifted. However, it is still a mandatory legal requirement for all bird keepers to follow strict biosecurity measures to help protect their flocks from the threat of avian flu.
Keepers with more than 500 birds will need to 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 to limit the risk of the disease spreading.
Backyard owners with smaller numbers of poultry (including chickens, ducks and geese) must also take steps to limit the risk of the disease spreading to their animals.
Useful 'Stop the spread' webinar recordings to help smallholder and hobbyist keepers and to help commercial producers find out what they can do to keep their birds free of disease can be found on GOV.uk.
Public Health England advises that the risk to public health is very low.
The Food Standards Agency has said that on the basis of current scientific evidence, the disease poses a very low food safety risk for UK consumers. Properly cooked poultry and poultry products, including eggs, are safe to eat.
If you employ people who work with poultry or work with poultry yourself, you can also read Health and Safety Executive advice on protecting workers from avian influenza.
In summary all poultry keepers should:
If you keep more than 500 birds, you must take some extra biosecurity measures, which include:
If you suspect any type of avian influenza you must report it immediately by calling APHA on 0300 020 0301. Failure to do so is an offence.
The disease spreads from bird to bird by direct contact or through contaminated body fluids and faeces and poultry affected may show the following symptoms:
Please note: This list is not exhaustive.
Low pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI) is usually less serious. It can cause mild breathing problems, but affected birds will not always show clear signs of infection.
If you find any of the following, report them to the Defra helpline by calling 0345 933 5577.
Do not touch or pick up any dead or visibly sick birds that you find.
The APHA Alerts Subscription Service provides registered users with the latest news on exotic notifiable animal disease outbreaks in Great Britain. Alerts may also be sent outside of a disease outbreak.
If you own, or are responsible for, poultry flocks of 50 or more birds (not necessarily of the same species) and even if your premises are only stocked for part of the year, then you must, within one month of their arrival at your premises, register your flocks.
For poultry flocks of fewer than 50 birds, whilst the law does not require you to register them, we still encourage you to do so as this means we can contact you quickly if there is an outbreak of disease.