Bird Flu Outbreaks

The Government has announced a poultry lockdown from the 7th November 2022 affecting all poultry and captive birds which will need to be housed until further notice.  This is in response to the biggest ever outbreak of Avian Flu.  Birds are required to be shut indoors and their keepers are to implement strict biosecurity measures to help protect flocks from the threat of Avian Flu, regardless of size.   

The regulations stipulate that under lockdown conditions poultry should be kept inside and under cover and this has raised concerns since the keeping of certain poultry in confined spaces can bring all sorts of issues including cannibalism.  

Many poultry owners are confused as to why a vaccine strategy has not been implemented to control the problem.  The UK’s Chief Veterinary Officer states that it is a very live global discussion but vaccination had previously only occurred in very exceptional circumstances for example for Zoo birds because the vaccine was ineffective as differing strains of flu develop during each outbreak.   

The Chief Veterinary Officer further added that the vaccine would not be able to deal with the current outbreak of bird flu this year but that the housing of birds would reduce the risk of infection from wild birds. Further stringent measures such as wearing protective clothing and ensuring feed and water bottles were accessible and buildings housing birds were vermin proof and reducing contact between poultry and wild birds would reduce the risk manyfold.  

The Chief Veterinary officer added that Sunday roasts and Christmas dinners were unlikely to be affected as over a billion birds are slaughtered each year in the UK whilst only 2.3 million birds have been culled or died from the Avian Flu outbreak this year.  Thus a relatively small proportion of the total poultry required for the Christmas table.   

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