HOUSING measures have come into force to protect poultry and captive birds from Avian Influenza (bird flu).

From Monday, November 29, bird keepers in Wales and across the UK are now required to keep their birds indoors and follow strict biosecurity measures to limit the risk of the disease spreading.

It comes after an increase in the number of detections of bird flu across the UK, Welsh Government said.

Bird keepers must:

• Keep domestic ducks and geese separate from other poultry

• Ensure the areas where birds are kept are unattractive to wild birds, for example by netting ponds, and by removing wild bird food sources

• Feed and water your birds in enclosed areas to discourage wild birds

• Minimise movement in and out of bird enclosures

• Clean and disinfect footwear and keep areas where birds live clean and tidy

• Reduce any existing contamination by cleansing and disinfecting concrete areas, and fencing off wet or boggy areas

• Keep free ranging birds within fenced areas, and ensure that ponds, watercourses and permanent standing water are fenced off (except in specific circumstances such as zoo birds)

• 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.

• Keepers with more than 500 birds are also required to take extra biosecurity measures, including restricting access to non-essential people, changing clothing and footwear before entering bird enclosures and cleaning and disinfecting vehicles.

Carmarthenshire County Council Cabinet Member for Public Protection, Cllr Phillip Hughes, said: “I cannot stress enough the importance of observing the strictest biosecurity measures and it is the most effective way to reduce the risk of disease.”

Avian influenza circulates naturally in wild birds and when they migrate to the UK from mainland Europe over the winter they can spread the disease to poultry and other captive birds.

Poultry keepers and members of the public should report dead wild birds to the Defra helpline on 03459 33 55 77 and keepers should report suspicion of disease to APHA on 0300 303 8268. Keepers should familiarise themselves with our avian flu advice.