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Livestock health and welfare

If you find dead wild waterfowl (Swans, geese or ducks ) or other dead wild birds, such as gulls or birds of prey, you should report them to the DEFRA helpline on 03459335577. DO NOT TOUCH or PICK UP any dead or visibly sick birds that you find. For further information please see DEFRA's advice to the public.

Wiltshire have a small and dedicated team of Animal Health and Welfare Officers, as Wiltshire is a unitary authority they enforce a variety of legislation designed to help protect the human food change, animal health and welfare.

The Animal Health Team deals with complaints regarding:

  • Livestock health and welfare on farms
  • In transit
  • In markets
  • At abattoirs

If you have any concerns about the environmental impact caused by the keeping of livestock - e.g. noise, smells or vermin, further information can be found on the Environmental protection section of our website.

Livestock Welfare Concerns

Notifiable Animal Diseases

It is difficult to predict when a notifiable disease will occur but it is important that farmers and animal owners are vigilant to the signs of disease and take appropriate action to report any suspected cases without undue delay.

Avian Influenza 

Following an increase in the number of detections of avian influenza (bird flu) in wild birds and on commercial premises, the Chief Veterinary Officers from England, Scotland and Wales have declared an Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) across Great Britain to mitigate the risk of the disease spreading amongst poultry and captive birds.

It is now a legal requirement for all bird keepers in Great Britain to follow strict biosecurity measures to help protect their flocks from the threat of avian flu.

Good biosecurity is an essential defence against AI and is key to limiting the spread of this disease in an outbreak. The disease control measures apply to pet/captive birds, pigeons or commercial flocks. Further advice on Biosecurity and preventing welfare impacts in poultry and captive birds can be found at DEFRA: Biosecurity and preventing welfare impacts in poultry and captive birds (opens new window).

Keepers should register their poultry so the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) can contact them during an outbreak, this can be done at GOV.UK: Poultry (including game birds): registration rules and forms (opens new window).

In England and Wales, keepers are encouraged to register their birds ahead of the legal deadline on 1 October 2024. After this deadline, it will become mandatory to register your flock regardless of the number. The requirements will be set out in legislation shortly and keepers will also be legally required to update their information on an annual basis.

There is also an alert service available where you can keep up to date with the latest news from APHA. This can be done at APHA animal disease alert subscription service (opens new window).

Reporting dead wild birds

Do not touch or pick up any dead or visibly sick birds that you find.

You should call the DEFRA helpline (03459 33 55 77) if you find:

  • one or more dead bird of prey or owl
  • one or more dead gulls or wild waterfowl (swans, geese, ducks and gulls)
  • five or more dead birds of any other species

If dead wild birds are not needed for Avian Influenza surveillance purposes and landowners have taken the decision to remove carcasses, it is the landowner's responsibility to safely arrange disposal of the carcasses.

Landowners are responsible for any costs associated with removal and disposal of dead wild birds. If dead birds are on public land it is the local authority's responsibility to arrange disposal of the carcasses where removal is warranted.

After contacting the Defra helpline (03459 33 55 77) to report the dead wild birds, if the birds are not required for surveillance purposes, members of the public should follow the advice below for the disposal of dead garden birds.

  • Wear disposable protective gloves when picking up and handling dead wild birds (if disposable gloves are not available, a plastic bag can be put over hands as a make-shift gloves). Put the dead bird in a plastic bag (if plastic bags were used over the hands, the bag can be turned back on itself and tied). 
  • Tie up your first bag.
  • Put the first plastic bag, with the bird in, into a second plastic bag preferably leak proof. Care should be taken not to contaminate the outside of the bag.
  • Remove gloves by turning them inside out and then place them in the second plastic bag. (If unsure how to do this, take a look at the Health and Safety Executive video on avoiding contamination when removing gloves (opens new window)).
  • Tie second bag and disposed of it, in the normal household waste (outside). 

More information  How to spot avian influenza (bird flu), what to do if you suspect it, and measures to prevent it. (opens new window).

In addition, the RSPB have some useful information RSPB Avian Influenza advice (opens new window).

If you suspect any type of Avian Influenza in poultry or captive birds you must report it immediately by calling the DEFRA Rural Services Helpline on 03000 200 301.

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