In the last week we have produced a booklet for each club secretary that contains information available from the DEFRA website concerning the licence conditions clubs are required to follow. We have also sent a poster with the biosecurity advice for display at the marking station or clubhouse.
It is clear however that there is still some confusion amongst members about what exactly is required of them concerning racing, training and sales so let me try to spell it out in a nutshell.
- You do not need to hold a physical licence. There is no piece of paper that authorizes you to race, hold shows or sales BUT…..
- If you are holding a gathering of racing pigeons (so a show, sales or race) then you must follow the licence conditions as laid out on the DEFRA website (and as reproduced in the booklet to club secretaries).
- If you holding an auction sale or breeder buyer sale where pigeons from more than one loft are in attendance then you need to follow the licence conditions for sales.
- If you are training pigeons from more than one loft, then again you must follow the licence conditions as laid out below. This entails advising the AHDO as required, keeping the records needed, disinfecting etc.
- With regard to the named veterinary surgeon, a club needs to follow the licence conditions, that is to have the name and contact number of a vet local to the club HQ and/or marking station (wherever there is a gathering). The vet does not need to be in attendance, just on call so it should not cost the club anything unless the vet has to be called out.
- The RPRA will contact AHDOs nearest to the liberation site to advise of races booked through race programmes. In the event of an organisation having to move to another site on the Saturday or Sunday then the race organiser MUST advise the AHDO if this means that the transporter has moved to a new AHDO area.
If you have any further queries then I suggest that you contact the AHDO for advice although one concern I have raised with DEFRA head office, and still await a response, is that there is conflicting advice from different AHDOs.
Regarding racing from the continent I have received the following from DEFRA:
Pigeon racing - Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health (SCoFCAH) statement.
A SCoFCAH statement agreed on 8 March recommended that the decision to authorise pigeon races should be based on a risk assessment. In the light of this, we have reviewed our veterinary risk assessment which allows racing to take place within the British Isles (including the Republic of Ireland) but does not permit racing from another Member State. The assessment has not changed. Therefore it is highly unlikely that any pigeon racing from outside the British Isles will be permitted this season.
The General licence conditions are:
Conditions applying to bird gatherings (sales) in England
Conditions applying to gatherings for pigeon races and pigeon training events (into England from the British Isles):
- A nominated person must be designated as the event organiser and a person responsible for keeping the records set out in condition 2.
- A record of all exhibitors and vendors of birds must be kept for three months, which includes the following information:
- full name
- home address
- telephone number
- number and types of birds
- A named veterinary surgeon (or another veterinary surgeon if the named person is unavailable) must be contactable for advice and to attend in the event of any suspect disease.
- Biosecurity advice must be distributed at the event.
- If sales of birds are taking place at the event, a record of all sales must be kept by the event organiser for at least three months. This must include the name, address and telephone number of both the seller and the buyer, and any identifying features or individual identification of the purchased bird(s).
- To notify the local State Veterinary Service Animal Health Office nearest to the event at least 14 days prior to the event taking place. Notification must include date, location, details of the event organiser and anticipated numbers and types of birds.
- The event organiser must also ensure that at each point of gathering a responsible person keeps the records set out in condition 8.
- A record of all entrants/ participants must be kept for three months, which includes the following information for each:
- full name
- home address
- telephone number
- number of birds
- name of club to which the entrant/ participant belongs (and individual(s) if not affiliated to a club)
- ring numbers of individual birds
- The event organiser must ensure that biosecurity advice is distributed to entrants/ participants.
- The event organiser must notify the State Veterinary Service Animal Health Office nearest to the liberation site at least 14 days prior to the race. Notification must include release location and date, details of the event organiser and anticipated numbers of birds.
Biosecurity conditions to be applied
- Written detailed action plans, held by the nominated responsible person, must be available in the event of a disease incident at the event or nearby the event
- All litter and manure within the cages, crates or baskets must be contained until disposal. Any spillages outside the cage to be cleansed and disinfected immediately.
- All litter and manure must be disposed of in a manner which does not present a risk of spread of the disease, e.g. in sealed bags for normal refuse collection in such a manner that other birds do not have direct access to it.
- All exhibitors/entrants must be instructed to cleanse and disinfect the show cages, crates or baskets before the event and be advised that they should be cleansed and disinfected on return to the home premises and before they are used to hold any other bird.
Buyers must isolate the purchased bird(s) from any other birds (except those purchased at the same event) for at least one week. Any signs of ill health observed in the purchased bird(s) during this period must be reported to a veterinary surgeon and such birds must not be mixed with any other birds until the presence of an avian notifiable disease has been ruled out.
- Pigeon races
Individual pigeons should be inspected for signs of disease before being mixed with pigeons from other lofts in crates or transport containers.
All crates, baskets and pigeon containers used for transport, and holding birds prior to liberation must be cleansed and disinfected prior to and after the race.
For a race within the British Isles, birds returning to their loft in England more than 48 hours after the start of the race should be isolated for a minimum of 3 weeks. The period could be extended beyond 48 hours in exceptional circumstances such as where bad weather causes a delay to the return of a large number of birds. If in isolation, birds should be inspected regularly and any signs of ill health notified to a veterinary surgeon.
It is evident that many organisations have still yet to submit their race programmes. If you have not done so then please do this as a MATTER OF URGENCY. Failure to give us the requisite notice may well mean that we are unable to advise DEFRA on your behalves within the licence timescales and therefore your races may have to be cancelled.
Several fanciers have suggested to me that, as we not racing from France, then is there a need to vaccinate against PMV. Well the simple answer is a definite YES. All racing pigeons that are raced or shown MUST be vaccinated annually. No ifs, no buts. In fact I was corresponding with Dr Pascal Lanneau recently, he being the vet that helped provide the scientific evidence that has helped our case for racing, and suggested that perhaps PMV vaccination may be one of the reasons that pigeons have this resistance to AI. I await his response.
The Royal Pigeon Racing Association
Nr Cheltenham, Glos. GL51 6RN
Tel 01452 713529 Fax 857119