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Defra announces new requirements for keepers of poultry and other birds

Defra has published the responses and outcomes of its consultation on “proposed registration requirements for all bird keepers in Great Britain”, which was conducted between March and May 2023. The Countryside Alliance responded to this consultation along with many of our members and followers, and ten months on, we now have the outcomes.

The confirmed outcomes are: all kept birds, not just poultry, will need to be registered with the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA); the threshold number of birds kept requiring registration will be reduced from 50 to one; and all keepers of birds will be mandated to review their records annually. There will be no requirement for birds such as budgerigars, parrots, or canaries that are kept in a birdhouse within a dwelling to be registered.

The implementation of these new requirements will be in two phases. The mandatory registration of all bird keepers will apply from 1 September 2024 in Scotland and 1 October 2024 in England and Wales, with the mandatory updates from 12 months after those dates.

Although the vast majority of respondents to the consultation believed there was no need to change the existing registration requirements, Defra, Nature Scot and Natural Resources Wales have instead decided to follow responses which support these new requirements. The new registration requirements should lead to more efficient progress when carrying out the required surveillance to allow disease control zones to be lifted after an outbreak of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI), and this could benefit the game industry going forwards.

It is important to note that those who keep 50 or more gamebirds or ducks are already required to register with the APHA. This applies when the birds are in a rearing or release pen, but not after their release, at which stage they become classified as wild birds. With the new requirements, those who keep any number of gamebirds or ducks in a rearing or release pen will need to register.

The full responses and outcomes of the consultation can be found here. Defra’s press release on the new measure can be found here.


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