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UK poultry keepers urged to prepare for winter avian flu

Staff Writer |
All poultry keepers across the UK are being urged to remain vigilant to the threat of bird flu and take action now to reduce the risk to their flocks and the wider poultry industry this winter in a joint call from the Chief Vets of Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and the UK.

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Last winter, the H5N8 strain of bird flu was found in 13 kept flocks in the UK – ranging in size from as few as nine to as many as 65,000 birds.

"We’ve seen a decline in the number of new cases over the summer, but the disease is still circulating in kept poultry across Europe, with Italy the most recent country to suffer a series of outbreaks," authorities said.

It has also recently been confirmed in a dead mute swan in Norfolk.

Government is working with groups including NFUs, RSPCA, British Hen Welfare Trust, Poultry Club of Great Britain and UFU to highlight the importance of keeping up high biosecurity even though the immediate disease risk has dropped.

Together, the groups are also keen to highlight the impact of bird flu on the poultry industry, as a case in a backyard flock leads to the same trade restrictions in an area as an outbreak on a commercial farm – so protecting chickens in a back garden from the disease also protects farmers locally and nationally.

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