Animal Health and Welfare

Avian Influenza (Bird Flu) Prevention Zone Declared in Response to Spread of H5N8 in Europe

Update - 10th February 2017 - The Scottish Government issued a  press release on  9th February notifying bird keepers that the Avian Influenza (AI) Prevention Zone will remain in force until at least the end of April 2017.  However, from 28 February the requirements of the zone will change, meaning that keepers may let their birds out provided that they have enhanced biosecurity measures in place.

An AI Prevention Zone was first declared from 6 December 2016, and was renewed on 4 January 2017 to last until 28 February.  The current zone, which continues to have effect, requires all poultry and captive bird keepers to apply heightened biosecurity including keeping their birds indoors if possible, or otherwise separated from wild birds. 

Since the Zone was first declared the risk level for Avian Influenza incursions into the UK has been raised to ‘low to medium’ for poultry or captive birds, and ‘high’ for wild birds.  Eight cases of H5N8 have been confirmed in domestic birds in England and Wales, as well as wild birds across the UK including a peregrine falcon found in Dumfries and Galloway in December 2016. 

In light of the continuing risk across the UK and Europe, Scottish Ministers have decided that a further zone should be declared lasting until the end of April.  However, following discussions with industry stakeholders and their representatives, it has been agreed that, based on current risk levels, it would be proportionate to amend the zone from 28 February to allow some birds to be let out under enhanced biosecurity measures, to protect our vital poultry industry while still minimising disease risk.  Keepers will still have the option to house their birds – for many this will continue to be the easiest way to protect them from AI.  However, there are steps that keepers should consider taking now in order to make their range unattractive to wild birds for the remaining days in February - it is vital that these activities start as soon as possible:

Make your birds’ range unattractive to wild birds:
  • Net ponds and drain waterlogged areas of land.  If this isn’t possible, then can you fence them off from your birds so they cannot access it whilst ranging, or use an alternative paddock that doesn’t have access to water
  • Remove any feeders and water stations from the range, or ensure that they are covered to sufficiently restrict access by wild birds
  • Consider using decoy predators or other livestock (such as sheep or cattle) on the range, or allowing dogs to accompany you on foot patrols around the range. You could also consider bird scarers if their use is appropriate for the area (see NFU Code of Practice on bird scarers)

Further information is available at www.gov.scot/avianinfluenza. The ban on gatherings of poultry, game birds and waterfowl also remains in force.

Bird keepers in Scotland are reminded of the importance of excellent biosecurity and anyone who suspects an animal may be affected by a notifiable disease must report it to their local Animal Plant & Health Agency office. Contact details can be found at www.defra.gov.uk/ahvla-en/about-us/contact-us/field-services/

Avian Influenza is an animal health disease affecting poultry and the risk arises from farmed or domestic poultry coming into contact with wild birds and the action was not taken as a public health measure. The advice from Food Standards Scotland is that bird flu does not pose a food safety risk for UK consumers.

* If you transport animals and your Transporter Authorisation has expired you may be committing an offence - see the AHVLA notice or the DEFRA website for further information *

Since 1st October 2016 the process for renewal of Type 1 Transporter Authorisations has changed and authorisations are no longer renewed automatically. Instead, transporters must submit an application for renewal of their Type 1 authorisations. Find out more here

Argyll and Bute Council’s Animal Health Service is responsible for carrying out the Council’s duties in relation to the Animal Health Act 1981 and other associated legislation in relation to Animal Health and Welfare.

Animal Health and Welfare Officers can advise on orders and regulations relevant to Animal Health and Welfare.

Current Concerns

Please see below an update on issues arising:

Animal by-products - December 2015

Animal Health and Welfare Role

The principal function of the Animal Health and Welfare Section is: -

a)     to prevent the introduction and control the spread of contagious diseases, including some which may constitute a risk to human health (e.g. Anthrax, Rabies and Tuberculosis), and

b)    ensuring the welfare needs of animals and birds are met

We do this by:

Visiting livestock markets

Officers visit livestock markets to;

  • ensure high welfare standards are maintained for the livestock in the market and during transportation to and from the market;
  • monitor compliance with bio-security rules that are in place to reduce the risk of any potential spread of disease;
  • ensure the livestock at the market are correctly identified and are moved with the correct paperwork;
  • Look for any sign of disease.

Carry out transit checks

Officers:

  • stop (with the support of the police )and inspect vehicles transporting animals to ensure that high welfare standards are maintained for animals during their journey;
  • ensure that the vehicles are constructed and used correctly for the transportation of the appropriate species of animal;
  • ensure that animals are correctly identified and are moved with the correct paperwork. 

Visiting livestock holdings

Officers will carry out an inspection of and provide advice and assistance on:

  • farm livestock records;
  • veterinary medicine records;
  • animal movement licences and passports;
  • livestock identification;
  • disposal of livestock carcases;
  • livestock vehicles – construction and cleanliness.

Other areas of work

This includes

  • Monitoring movements of pigs;
  • Investigation of complaints in relation to animal health and welfare;
  • Helping to maintain Contingency Plans which when deployed assist in the control of diseases such as Rabies and Foot and Mouth Disease;
  • Investigation of any import and export of animals alleged to be in breach of regulations;
  • Visits to premises which are subject to license conditions such as zoos and premises keeping animals listed as “dangerous wild animals” as requested by Environmental Health;
  • Providing advice and assistance on Animal Health and Welfare Legislation.