DEFRA has opened a consultation over the registration of poultry that could see rules tightened for keepers of flocks of fewer than 50 birds.

The government has said its preferred option is to extend compulsory registration to all bird keepers, with the requirement to update records annually.

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However, the proposal would exclude non-poultry pet birds kept within a dwelling.

Only keepers of more than 50 birds are currently obliged to register their flock with Defra, which helps government agencies when managing avian influenza or Newcastle Disease outbreaks.

Defra is consulting over three options – keeping compulsory registration at 50 birds, lowering the threshold to 10 birds or lowering it to one bird.

Resource intensive

Finding backyard flocks within surveillance zones can prove challenging and is a task that falls to the local Trading Standards team.

In October last year, The Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI)’s Stephanie Young told Poultry.Network of the challenge that tracing can present.

“[It] is highly resource intensive, she explained. “I’ve got to put bodies on the ground, and it often takes up the whole service.”

The CTSI, as well as many in the commercial poultry sector, have lobbied for changes to the 50-bird registration rule to make this process easier. 

Changes to the rules were also recommended in the 2018 the 2018 Dame Glenys Stacey Review of farm inspections and regulations, which was conducted for England.

Wales and Scotland have agreed to introduce the same registration requirements as England when they are formalised.

The consultation is open until the end of May, and more details as well as the form for submissions can be found on Defra’s website.