CHICKEN owners across the United Kingdom will have to register their birds with the government if new rules are approved in a bid to crackdown on bird flu.

Currently, those who own 50 or more birds, have to register their flock with the government, but anyone who has birds for their own supply of eggs, or as pets, do not.

Under the proposed new rules, being consulted on by the UK government, bird owners would also be required to update their information on an annual basis.

They would have to provide information including their contact details, the location of where the birds are kept and details of the species, number and their use.

The law would apply to people who have back yard chickens, birds of prey and pigeon owners, but would not affect pet birds always kept inside a domestic dwelling, such as a parrot or budgie kept in a cage that never leaves the property other than to see the vet or for another short-term period.

The government says that by registering their birds with the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA), keepers will ensure they receive important updates such as any local avian influenza outbreaks and information on biosecurity rules to help protect their flocks from the threat of avian influenza.

This will enable the government to communicate with bird keepers quickly, to manage potential disease outbreaks, such as avian influenza, and limit the spread.

In a joint statement the Chief Veterinary Officers from England, Scotland and Wales said: “These proposals will enable us to have a full picture of the number and location of birds kept across Great Britain and make it easier to track and manage the spread of avian disease.

“This information will also help inform future risk assessments and maintain our commitment to continually building our extensive avian influenza research portfolio.”

British Poultry Council Chief Executive said: “We welcome this consultation as a means of ensuring the GB poultry register is fit to support Government and industry efforts in mitigating the ongoing impacts of avian influenza. Registering your poultry is an effective way of monitoring and controlling the spread of disease to protect the national flock. We, as ever, urge all poultry keepers to remain vigilant for signs of avian influenza in their birds.”

The consultation proposals take forward the recommendation from the 2018 Dame Glenys Stacey Review and lessons identified from the 2021/2022 highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1 outbreak and previous HPAI outbreaks.

A 12-week joint consultation will run until 31 May.