Advice for our members around avian influenza

As of w/c 12 December 2021, we will only be conducting visits to poultry units using the remote assessment protocol we employed last year at the height of the Covid outbreak, but with some exceptions.

We will continue to conduct in-person assessments outside the 3km protection zone, and 10km surveillance zone, in the following instances:

  • Sites receiving additional visits under special measures
  • Investigatory visits
  • New applications

Our assessors and the RSPCA’s farm livestock officers (monitors) will continue to adhere to our stringent biosecurity measures.

RSPCA Assured assessors will do their best to keep to their existing schedule of assessments within these revised parameters.

We will review this position on assessments, in conjunction with the most up-to-date data, at the end of January 2022.

It is clear that disease outbreaks, and AI, in particular, are now an annual challenge for the industry. As such, we will be convening a forum early next year at which we would like to hear your views on how best we can continue to verify compliance with the RSPCA's high welfare standards, whilst maintaining the integrity of your certificates and trust in the RSPCA Assured logo.

For all other species (and the exceptions mentioned above), we will continue with our onsite farm visits as normal and of course, our strict biosecurity measures will be in place as standard.

These include:

  • When calling to confirm a visit, our assessors will ask if there are any local biosecurity measures that need to be followed during the visit, this may include wearing your PPE

  • Assessments will be scheduled in coordination with your field staff, and once again with full regard being given to your biosecurity policies

  • For assessments of independents, the assessor will plan to assess the youngest livestock as the first visit of the day (if this is followed by a second/third independent assessment later in the day of the same species). That is unless there is a 24 or 48-hour break between the visitors having contact with other same species prior to visiting your site. In this case, such assessments will take place as the first in the week, or after other non-related species, so pigs before poultry and vice-versa if they are to be assessed later in the week

  • When necessary, we can also accommodate a larger than 48-hour break

  • All our assessors will have appropriate, disposable PPE which is discarded after assessments at each site. If our assessors use their own wellington boots/leggings during the stock inspection, they will be washed and disinfected before leaving the site

  • All our assessors carry their own hand sanitiser

  • Our assessors will comply with your site access requirements including site entry, moving around the site, using wheel wash facilities, parking in visitor parking, showering in/out for hatchery assessments, using foot dips, and signing the visitor books etc...

  • At the opening meeting, our assessor will also ask if there are any further specific biosecurity concerns we need to be aware of, including any serious livestock health issues

RSPCA Assured assessors will also continue to use ‘contactless’ guidelines for on-farm assessments.

These include the following requirements:

  • Assessor to take their own temperature on the day of assessment
  • PPE, including a face mask, to be worn by assessors throughout the visit
  • Assessor to use their own pen for signing paperwork
  • Member to prepare any paperwork, medicines and equipment in advance for the assessor to review in a safe area away from other farm staff 
  • Member to be asked to open all gates and doors for the assessor

For any further advice on Avian Flu and how it may impact your on-farm assessments, please don’t hesitate to contact RSPCA Assured.

Prompt reporting of any suspicion of disease
  • Contact your vet if you notice an increase in mortality or production
  • Contact APHA immediately to organise an APHA vet to visit the premises

For more information

Enhanced biosecurity all of the time

  • Do not house different species together
  • Minimise contact with wild birds, i.e. keep food and water inside
  • Restrict access to visitors and keep records of visits
  • Ensure you have  the facility to house birds in the event of a Mandatory Housing Order
  • Check to see if you are in a high-risk area
  • Use government-approved disinfectants at the correct dilution

Vigilance

Look out for signs. These can vary from species to species. Signs can include:

  • coughing 
  • sneezing 
  • lethargy
  • diarrhoea
  • reduced food and water intake
  • swollen head
  • blue discolouration of neck and throat
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