New rules for all poultry keepers

22 March 2024


New rules on registering poultry are coming into force this year and backyard birdkeepers will need to officially register their flock regardless of the number.

Previously, only people with more than 50 birds were required to register, but the new measures announced by Defra has reduced this to anyone with just one bird.

Defra consulted on the changes in March last year and has this week announced that the government, along with the devolved administrations, has agreed to make the following changes in England, Wales and Scotland:

  • The threshold for mandatory registration will be reduced from 50 birds to 1, which means all poultry and captive bird keepers will be legally required to register their birds.
  • Poultry keepers will be required to review their poultry register entry annually to ensure their details are up to date.

Key dates

The requirement for all poultry keepers to register will come into force in autumn 2024, with the requirement for an annual review to be introduced 12 months later. Budgies, parrots, canaries and similar species that are kept indoors or in a dedicated ‘bird house’ without any outside access will be exempt from the above changes.

In England and Wales, keepers are encouraged to register their birds ahead of the legal deadline on 1 October 2024.

Bird keepers will need to provide information, including their contact details, the location where birds are kept and details of the birds (species, number and what they are kept for).

The government said the changes would help manage potential disease outbreaks, such as avian influenza, and limit any spread.

The information on the register will also be used to identify all bird keepers in disease control zones, allowing for more effective surveillance, so that zones can be lifted at the earliest possible opportunity.

NFU Poultry Board chair James Mottershead said the NFU was pleased to see Defra and the devolved governments taking steps to improve the accuracy and the relevance of the information it holds on poultry keepers of all scales and sizes.

He said: “It’s important that the government now focuses on making the process of registering, reviewing and updating the GB Poultry Register as straightforward as possible to minimise the administrative burden on all poultry keepers.

“These changes should help the government communicate important information to all poultry keepers in a more timely manner, which in turn will help protect the health of the national flock.”

There have been more than 360 cases of avian influenza across Great Britain since October 2021, including a significant number of backyard flocks.

Find out more

For more information on registering your birds, visit: GOV.UK | Poultry and other captive birds: registration rules and forms.

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