Bird flu advice issued to poultry owners

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Allotment holders who keep chickens and hens are being urged to get them inside as quickly as possible in a bid to prevent an outbreak of bird flu.

The advice comes from government department Defra, which has warned of the dangers of avian influenza, and called for “Prevention Zones”.

In Burnley, Briercliffe Allotments chairman Joan Royle said that notices were being put up to make members aware. There are thought to be around 30 members who keep birds.

She said: “If just one chicken or hen catches the virus, then all the birds on the allotments will have to be destroyed.

“We are being told the bird flu is in France and the Netherlands at the moment but it could come here next, so it’s important that everyone adheres to this advice.”

Defra has said that poultry keepers across Britain must keep chickens, hens, ducks and turkeys housed indoors where practicable, or keep them separate from wild birds.

For farmed geese, game birds and other captive birds where housing is less practicable, keepers must take steps to keep them separate from wild birds.

On December 6th Defra, the Scottish and Welsh Governments announced Avian Influenza Prevention Zones to help protect poultry from a highly pathogenic strain of avian flu present in Europe.

The zones cover the whole of Britain and will remain in place until January 6th.

A Defra spokesman said: “The Prevention Zones requires all poultry and captive birds, including backyard flocks and other captive birds, to be housed or, where it is not practicable to do so, requires steps to be taken to keep them separate from wild birds. If you keep your birds near your home, consider housing them in alternative accommodation, such as a garden building, a garage or redundant building that could be adapted.”