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The NCA revised Bird Welfare Guidelines - for UK Bird Keepers

The first Code of Conduct for Bird keepers was issued some years at a time when viral infection was threatening the budgerigar world in particular and avian flu and other diseases, mainly in the poultry industry, were causing increased alarm in the press and thence among the public. In an effort to preserve bird keeping and bird exhibitions at that time the original Code of Conduct adopted a "belt and braces" approach and was very prescriptive in its advice. Although this succeeded in gaining the budgerigar fancy and others permission to continue to run exhibitions, its unintended consequence was to advocate a regime, particularly on the bio-security side, that placed great if not impossible demands on cage bird societies and show organisers.

Since then, we have a more realistic understanding of the threat from viral infection and other diseases and know that, provided we take sensible bio-security measures as laid down by DEFRA, we can continue to hold shows and exhibitions without danger to our birds, ourselves or the general public.

In the Spring of 2007 the NCA Management Committee set up a small sub-committee to review the Code of Conduct comprised of   representatives from its four parent bodies (the Canary Council, The Budgerigar Society, The British Bird Council and the Foreign Bird Federation).

The major purposes of review of the Code were to reduce it in length, complexity and repetition in order to make it more user-friendly to bird keepers and in doing this to bear in mind the Code's possible use by DEFRA, legal authorities or other agencies as a guide by which to judge potential cases where animal welfare standards were an issue.

The document was considered in two parts:

         A general section to inform all bird keepers of their responsibilities regarding the welfare of their birds

         A separate section dealing with shows and exhibitions.

The revised Code does not attempt to cover all eventualities but rather to cover the broad principles and specific requirements for bird keepers required by the Animal Welfare Act. Bird Keepers should then be referred to the relevant parent body for detailed advice on the management of individual species contained in welfare sheets, information booklets and/or on websites.

The revised Code of Conduct is a set of guidelines to help bird keepers. It is not law although it reflects the spirit of the law in the form of the Animal Welfare Act. It will be reviewed at least once annually to ensure that it represents best practice in terms of animal welfare and will be amended to reflect changes in the law affecting aviculture. Suggestions for its modification or amendment in writing to the NCA Secretary from any affiliated cage bird society or club affiliated to any of the NCA parent bodies will be given due consideration by the Management Committee and adopted where appropriate.

The NCA hopes that this revised Code of Conduct will prove useful and informative to all bird keepers.

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