What counts as a bird gathering, and how to notify the Animal and Plant Health Agency.
Applies to England
From 8 November 2021 no gatherings of poultry, galliforme birds or anseriforme birds are permitted. Galliforme birds include pheasants, partridge, quail, chickens, turkeys and guinea fowl.
Anseriforme birds include ducks, geese and swans. The bird gatherings general licence for these types of bird was revoked on 8 November 2021.
Gatherings of all other types of birds except poultry, galliforme and anseriforme birds are permitted (including in the Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ)), provided that the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) has been notified of the gathering at least 7 days before the event and that the gathering meets all the requirements of the general licence.
You could be prosecuted if you do not meet the licence conditions. Your permission to operate under this licence could be suspended or withdrawn.
What counts as a bird gathering
Gatherings include (but are not limited to) bird fairs, markets, shows, sales, exhibitions and some premises used for dealing or internet sales. In addition, vehicles used to transport live birds where the birds are brought together from multiple premises (so called many-to-one or many-to-many activities) are also considered gatherings.
You can read about what counts as a bird gathering in the notes section of the licence.
How to hold a bird gathering
Bird gatherings are not permitted within a disease control zones (which surrounds an infected premises). Bird keepers and businesses can check where disease control zones are currently in force on our interactive map.
Outside of disease control zones bird gatherings are only permitted under the Avian Influenza (Preventive Measures) (England) Regulations (S.I. 2006/2701) if licensed. Defra has published a general licence permitting bird gatherings (including in the AIPZ) of all other types of birds except poultry, galliforme and anseriforme birds, provided they have been notified to APHA at least 7 days before the event and that the gathering meets all the requirements of the general licence.
General licences are issued by government agencies to provide a legal basis for people to carry out a range of activities. By definition people or organisations do not need to apply for general licence but you are required by law to abide by their terms and conditions.
Definitive requirements for allowed bird gatherings are set out in the bird gatherings general licence. This general licence is in force from 00:01 on the 8 November 2021 until further notice.
Subject to the gathering meeting all the requirements of the bird gatherings general licence, this general licence permits gatherings of all other types of birds except poultry, galliforme and anseriforme birds. However, pigeon racing from Northern Ireland and the EU also needs to comply with the EU regulations for the export of captive birds.
How to notify APHA of a bird gathering
In England you must notify APHA by calling the Defra Rural Services Helpline on 03000 200 301 choosing the relevant options for APHA at least 7 days before a bird gathering.
You’ll need to provide the following information:
- date (or range of dates) of the gathering
- location of gathering (full postal address and postcode, and County Parish Holding (CPH) number (if applicable))
- types and numbers of birds expected
- purpose of the gathering (for example, show, sale or racing)
- your name, address and contact phone number, and an email address and mobile number
APHA will notify the local authority about the gathering on your behalf.
Keep records for 3 months
You must keep records of bird gatherings for at least 3 months after each event, including:
- name, address and contact number of anyone moving birds to and from the gathering
- types and numbers of birds exhibited, raced, transported, bought or sold at the gathering
APHA or the local authority may ask you for this information. Consult the general licence for definitive requirements on taking and retaining records of bird gathering.
Non-compliance with this general licence constitutes an offence under the Avian Influenza (Preventive Measures) (England) Regulations (S.I. 2006/2701) and on conviction under section 73 of the Animal Health Act 1981 a person may be liable to an unlimited fine and or imprisonment.
Compliance with the bird gatherings general licence is enforced in coordination with APHA by Local Authorities Animal Health Function (LAAHF), which is normally part of the Trading Standards or Environmental Health Service of a local authority. See the postcode tool to find details of how to contact your LAAHF with any reports of non-compliance.
Notifiable avian disease risk
The status of the bird gatherings general licence will be kept under regular review as part of the government’s work to monitor and manage the risks of notifiable avian disease. Any decisions on amending or withdrawing the general licence will be based on risk assessments containing the latest scientific and ornithological evidence and veterinary advice.
Defra could withdraw or amend the bird gatherings general licence immediately if the risk of the notifiable avian disease risk increases. Further information on the latest disease situation can be found on the avian influenza, Newcastle disease and paramyxovirus guidance.