Lesley Griffiths, has taken further action to protect poultry and captive birds from Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza by introducing a temporary suspension on gatherings of some species of birds.
This follows the declaration of the whole of Wales as an Avian Influenza Prevention Zone and the confirmation of the H5N8 strain of Avian Influenza at a turkey farm in Lincolnshire, England. This is the same strain that has been circulating in mainland Europe for a number of weeks.
The disease was declared on 16 December and all 2,500 birds at the farm have been destroyed. The farm has been disinfected and there have been no subsequent cases reported, though restrictions around the site remain in place.
The ban on gatherings applies to poultry, including chickens, turkeys, ducks and geese, and restricts events such as livestock fairs, auctions and bird shows. Similar bans have been introduced in England and Scotland, ensuring a consistent GB approach.
The ban does not apply to pigeons or aviary birds which present a much lower risk of passing the disease to domestic poultry. These arrangements will be kept under review and may be lifted or amended if the risk level changes.
The ban on gatherings is in addition to the requirement for all keepers of poultry and other captive birds to keep their birds indoors, or take appropriate steps to keep them separate from wild birds, and reinforce biosecurity measures on their premises.
The Food Standards Agency has confirmed it is safe to eat poultry meat and eggs. There is not anticipated to be any impact on the supplies of turkeys or other birds over Christmas.
The Cabinet Secretary said:
“While there have been no cases of Avian Influenza in Wales, this ban on gatherings is an additional measure aimed at protecting our poultry flocks and other domestic birds from the disease.
“I would encourage all poultry keepers, including those with fewer than 50 birds, to provide details of their flocks to the Poultry Register. This will ensure they can be contacted immediately in the event of an avian disease outbreak so that they can take action to protect their flock at the earliest opportunity.”
Chief Veterinary Officer, Christianne Glossop, said:
“Biosecurity should never be compromised. Even when birds are housed, there remains a risk of infection and keepers of poultry and other captive birds should ensure that every effort is made to prevent contact with wild birds. The movement of poultry should be minimized, and clothing and equipment should always be disinfected.”