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After unprecedented numbers of Bird Flu cases in 2022, confirmed cases of highly pathogenic Bird Flu have remained low to date in 2023/24. 

It is important nevertheless that bird keepers - both commercial and small flock keepers - stay vigilant to any signs of the disease in their birds.

Spotting symptoms

Be aware of the symptoms of Bird Flu and check your birds regularly for these. Advice on symptoms and how to report concerns is on the GOV.UK website.

Symptoms include:

  • Swollen head
  • Blue discolouration of neck and throat
  • Loss of appetite
  • Respiratory distress such as gaping beak, coughing, sneezing, gurgling, rattling
  • Diarrhoea
  • Fewer eggs laid
  • Increased mortality

Report disease symptoms in your own birds

If you keep birds and notice possible Bird Flu symptoms, you are legally obliged to report these to DEFRA's Rural Services Helpline on 03000 200301. Bird Flu is classified as a 'Notifiable Disease'.

When and how to report dead wild birds to DEFRA

If you come across:

  • One or more dead bird of prey
  • Three or more dead gulls or wild waterfowl (swans, geese, ducks)
  • Five or more dead birds of any species

You should either:

DEFRA also welcomes reports of any other species or numbers of dead wild birds.

If you report a dead wild bird, DEFRA and the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) may arrange to collect it and test it. If they are going to do this, it will happen within four days. They collect and test dead wild birds to help explain where Bird Flu is spreading in Great Britain and in which types of birds.

Do not touch or pick up dead or visibly sick birds. It is important that you wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water if you do touch any dead birds, droppings, feathers or material that has touched the dead bird.

For advice on disposing of dead wild birds, whether you are a member of the public or a land owner, please view guidance on removing and disposing of dead wild birds on the GOV.UK website.

Register your stock

Bird keepers with more than 50 birds, whether all the same species or a mixture, must register them by law with the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA). Those with less than 50 birds are also strongly encouraged to register their birds with the APHA.

To register, visit the Poultry (including game birds): registration rules and forms on the GOV.UK website. This also aids communication with you in the event of a confirmed case in your locality.

Register for Bird Flu updates

The Animal Plant and Health Agency (APHA) runs a free disease alerts service for bird keepers. This keeps you up to date with the latest Bird Flu developments.

Sign up to receive animal disease alerts from APHA on the GOV.UK website.