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Defra publishes avian flu guidance for pig producers

20th Feb 2017 / By Alistair Driver

Defra has published guidance for pig farmers clarifying how their businesses are affected by avian flu restrictions in place across the country, including when pigs might have to be culled. 

poultryCurrently the whole of the UK has been declared a prevention zone, following a series of confirmed cases over the winter.

This does not impose any restrictions on pig keepers but appropriate biosecurity measures must be observed where pigs are kept on the same premises as birds. 

The full briefing document,  prepared by Defra, the Welsh Government, APHA, NPA and the British Pig Association, can be viewed here 

If you are in a protection or surveillance zone

If your pig premises is within either a protection or surveillance zone then you will need to check on the Defra and Welsh Government websites what additional restrictions apply to your premises.

Currently, if you do not have birds on your premises then no additional restrictions apply. However, if birds are also kept on the premises the movement of pigs needs an additional licence under the Avian Influenza control legislation.

A general licence has been published on the Defra website that provides for movements from protection and surveillance zones in both England and Wales.

You should read this licence to check the terms of any movement. You should also check this remains available and in place at the time of your move. If no licence is available you should contact the APHA licensing team.

More details on licences are available on the guidance document.

Infected Premises

If you keep pigs on the same premises as birds and AI is detected in these birds, the premises will be declared an infected premises.

Pigs will be subject to movement restrictions, and will need to be tested. This may delay the movement of pigs and in the worst case, where the risk of disease is highest, legislation allows for pigs to be culled for disease control purposes.

Each situation is dealt with on a case by case basis by APHA/Defra/Welsh Government, following a veterinary risk assessment.

This is less likely to happen if you have complied with the rules, practice good biosecurity within the premises and kept your poultry housed. 

AI Prevention zone
The rules around housing poultry and other captive birds will change from February 28. This is because long-term housing of birds affects ‘free range’ status under EU regulations.

The document explains that the above rules will still apply to pig keepers who are moving animals in or around declared Protection and Surveillance Zones. 

NPA chief executive Zoe Davies stressed the need for pig farmers to be aware of the risk and to take pre-emptive action to reduce it.

She said: "I would like to reiterate our advice to pig producers to remove any poultry around a pig unit."

The most recent confirmed case was on a 23,000-bird unit in Suffolk in mid-February. Previous confirmed cases over the winter include three linked premises on a commercial game farm in Lancashire, three separate poultry farms in Lincolnshire and backyard flocks in North Yorkshire and Carmarthenshire.