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Updated Registration Requirements for Poultry Keepers Announced


The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has recently updated the existing regulations. According to the new rules, all poultry owners must register their birds, regardless of the number of birds they own. This change, which will be effective from autumn 2024, marks a shift from the earlier rule that required only owners of flocks with 50 or more birds to register.

Details of the New Regulation

The recent regulations require all individuals in England, Wales, and Scotland who own poultry, regardless of the size of their flock, to register their birds with the government. This measure is intended to improve the control of possible disease outbreaks, like avian influenza, by ensuring that all poultry sites are identified and can be supervised.

Key aspects of the new rules include:

  • Mandatory Registration: All poultry keepers must register their birds, significantly lowering the threshold from the previous 50 birds to just one.
  • Annual Review Required: Starting a year after the initial registration requirement comes into effect, poultry keepers will be required to annually verify and update their registration details to ensure accuracy.
  • Exemptions: Birds such as budgies, parrots, canaries, and other similar species that are housed indoors or in dedicated bird houses without outside access will not be subject to these new requirements.

Implementation Timeline

  • Registration Start Date: All poultry keepers are encouraged to register by the legal deadline of October 1, 2024.
  • Annual Review Introduction: The obligation to conduct an annual review of registration details will begin in autumn 2025.

Goals and Benefits

The update of these regulations represents a pre-emptive action taken by Defra and devolved administrations to enhance the management and prevention of diseases within bird communities, ensuring the protection of both domestic and commercial poultry. The recorded data will streamline the process of identifying poultry owners located in disease control areas, improving monitoring efforts and expediting the lifting of restrictions.

Industry Response

James Mottershead, chair of the NFU Poultry Board, expressed support for the changes, emphasising the importance of simplicity in the registration process to minimise the burden on poultry keepers. He noted that these adjustments would enable more efficient communication and ultimately contribute to the health and protection of the national flock.

Background of the Issue

As of October 2021, over 360 instances of avian influenza have been documented throughout Great Britain, impacting a considerable amount of garden flocks. This context highlights the urgent requirement for enhanced and broader registration and surveillance procedures.

This new mandate from Defra is a clear move toward more stringent and comprehensive management of poultry health across the UK. By ensuring all poultry keepers are registered, the government aims to enhance disease response capabilities and protect both domestic and commercial avian populations.

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