I am sure many of you are aware of the current situation we are facing in the UK when it comes to Avian Influenza. For those of you not aware, we are currently heading into winter having to defend ourselves against the most severe outbreak of the disease the UK has ever seen.

Despite a housing order being imposed in England, Welsh Government announced last week that Wales would not yet be introducing a mandatory housing order, but that the situation remains under constant review.

While of course things are different this side of the border, poultry keepers here in Wales are concerned as we head into winter and it is vital the industry stays ahead of the disease. NFU Cymru members recently met with the Interim Chief Veterinary Officer for Wales, Gavin Watkins, where our growing concerns as an industry were raised. During the meeting we discussed the spread of AI, epidemiology of the disease, biosecurity, the current measures that poultry keepers need to adhere to under the All-Wales Avian Influenza Protection Zone, as well as Welsh Government’s current position on housing measures.

There was a general feeling from among the NFU Cymru members in attendance at the meeting that alongside the stringent biosecurity measures already introduced in Wales as part of the All-Wales Avian Influenza Protection Zone measures, that Welsh Government should also introduce housing measures as an additional shield for birds in Wales.

I make no apologies for repeating the important message that all poultry members must continue to practise enhanced biosecurity at all times and to be vigilant for any signs of disease in their flock. I would also ask members of the public who keep smaller flocks of birds such as chickens, geese and ducks to also follow Welsh Government’s biosecurity advice. All bird keepers – whether they be larger commercial businesses or those with small ‘backyard’ flocks–have an important part to play in reducing the risk of AI.

I must also add that the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has said that the risk to the general public’s health is very low, and the Food Standards Agency has said that avian influenza poses a very low food safety risk for UK consumers. Properly cooked poultry and poultry products are safe to eat.

NFU Cymru is also hosting a Poultry Conference where members can hear more about efforts to tackle the spread of AI. The annual conference will take place at 6.30pm on Monday 21st November at the Metropole Hotel, Llandrindod Wells, Powys, kindly sponsored by Wynnstay. The event will feature a line-up of speakers providing expert insight and opinion to support poultry farmers in the running of their poultry meat or egg businesses.

Anyone wishing to attend is asked to call the NFU Cymru office on 01982 554200, register on the NFU Cymru website or email [email protected]

For the very latest on AI and its impact on Welsh poultry businesses, including a dedicated AI case finder, please visit the NFU Cymru website.