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
A general section to inform all bird
keepers of their responsibilities regarding the welfare of their birds
A separate section dealing with shows
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.