Then and……..NOW!

If reminiscence is a bore, then I am boring - no comments re the latter please! I have been keeping waterfowl, mostly wildfowl, for 41 years and I am hoping that it may be of interest to at least some readers if I draw a few comparisons. As stated, I am looking backwards and attempting to link this with the present day situation, particularly as far as legislation now affects keepers of waterfowl.

I purchased my first ducks, Mandarins, in 1966 from Capt. Weston, Chipping Norton. Yes, the name of his house was "Mandarin". I paid £6 for a pair. The going rate today is £44 - £45. Carolinas and a few other ducks quickly followed and within a short time, the first geese were added to the collection. The pair of Red-breasted cost me £450, which was quite a shock to the wallet in 1966. £240 should buy them now.

During my early days, transport of poultry around England and Wales. and even most of Scotland, was by rail. Alas, by degrees, fewer and fewer stations were prepared to accept such parcels and the cost of carriage escalated. British Rail, or whoever they are nowadays, will apparently only carry small livestock if they are accompanied by the owner - not what we really want! Interlink offered a useful service for several years but ceased to do so following a spillage of birds, which attracted considerable publicity. AMTRAK came on the scene and departed when the Welfare of Animals During Transport Order 1994 became effective. Under that order, ducks and geese along with other poultry and rabbits must have access to food and water if the journey time exceeds 12 hours. AMTRAK and other national carriers are unable to meet this stipulation. A few other couriers offer a rather limited service. The 1994 Order was, I assume, aimed to control to some extent the transport of large numbers of commercial poultry, which sometimes have to travel along motorways in large lorries, but the net was cast unjustifiably wide and our birds were "caught". Swans are the exception. They are not classed as poultry presumably because there are no domestic swans. The 1994 Order has been replaced by The Welfare of Animals (Transport) Order 1997. The 12 hour stipulation still applies.

Many of my firstly acquired birds were obtained from The Leckford Estate, part of the John Lewis Empire, and from Holmsley Pheasantries, both establishments in Hampshire. I recollect meeting the last passenger train of the day at Banbury station, usually just before midnight. Frequently 2 or 3 cardboard boxes of birds were strung together to form one parcel in order to attract a cheaper carriage rate. Alas, the Leckford wildfowl collection was disbanded 2 or 3 decades ago. On Sunday 14th November 1976, the BWA arranged an Open Day visit to Holmsley Pheasantries. I remember being made very welcome by hosts Wendy Lander and Peter Mays and we marvelled at the manner in which a parcel of land had been, and was still being, landscaped. The many pools and birds, particularly the wildfowl, were a magnetic attraction to us. Subsequently the number of pheasants was reduced and the establishment was renamed Holmsley Wildfowl.

With your forgiveness, here I digress. Over the years, Peter and I exchanged birds on several occasions. In recent times, we met at the Tott Hill services on the Newbury by-pass. Two or three years ago I travelled down on a similar mission one Saturday morning and I arrived before Peter. The car park is relatively small and in the section where I drew up there was only one other vehicle parked - a small blue saloon in a corner of the park about 60 yards distant from me. My vehicle engine had been "playing up" somewhat so I did not switch off. Shortly, to my disgust and amazement, I observed a tinfoil take-away food carton sailing out of the said car window. I did not want to leave my Mitsubishi with the engine running and I was hoping that a member of staff would appear in order that I could draw attention to the litterlout. It was not to be and Peter drew up his van alongside me. We began the exchange of boxes and then I suddenly realised that Peter had vanished. As I peered around the end of his vehicle I spotted him walking purposefully towards the blue car where the tinfoil had now been joined by an untidy pile of fish and chip papers plus 2 plastic beakers I summoned enough courage to tread in Peters steps and to offer appropriate support, whatever form that would take. Peter deftly scooped up the discarded material, opened the car door and deposited the litter on the lap of the person behind the steering wheel. This was a young man who immediately threw the debris back out onto the tarmac. Not to be outdone, Peter repeated his previous action. At this, the youth got out of his vehicle and more or less told Peter to mind his own business. Peter replied that he was not prepared to tolerate such behaviour and I chipped in, reminding the chap of his disgraceful conduct. The young female in the front passenger seat remained mute and impassive. By this time, more cars had arrived in the park and several people were now looking on in awe and bewilderment. Peter and I returned to our vehicles to complete the transfer of birds. Within minutes, the aforesaid young man was standing by us, taking photographs of Peter and his vehicle number plate. When this action was queried, he said that Peter had pushed him and that the incident of assault would be reported to the police. Peter and I completed our business and when parting company my farewell words were "See you in court"!

It is so very sad that the Holmsley Wildfowl collection is being dispersed. We wish Peter and Wendy and their families a long and happy retirement. I think the main redeeming feature is that Peter will be able to devote more time to his observation of truly wild (feathered!) birds. His success in the breeding of birds in captivity has been truly outstanding. The above-mentioned car park incident reflects his true character as a straightforward and upstanding person.

Now back to the nitty gritty. The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 replaced previous legislation relative to the protection of fauna and flora. Many of the provisions do not have any direct bearing on the keeping of waterfowl but there are some relatively important sections in the Act. Since the passing of this legislation, there have been several General Licences in force, which have allowed the sale of wildfowl within certain fairly wide limits. One such licence, number WLF 100095, is currently applicable and if the existing trend continues, a replacement should be issued when it expires.

1. The purpose of this licence is to allow the sale of any live captive bred bird, or egg, of the species contained on the list below.
2. Subject to the terms and conditions below this licence permits:

(a) the sale (which in this licence includes hire, barter or exchange), offer or exposure for sale, possession or transport for the purpose of sale;
(b) the publication or the causing to be published of any advertisement likely to be understood as the buying or selling or the intention of buying or selling;
of any captive bred (as defined in 3 below) live wild bird, or egg, of the species contained in the following list:

Aytha fuligula (Tufted Duck)
Anas strepera (Gadwall)
Anser albifrons (European White-fronted Goose)
Branta Canadensis Canadensis (Atlantic Canada Goose)
Anser anser (Greylag Goose)
Anser brachyrhynchus (Pink-footed Goose)
Anser fabalis (Bean Goose)
Anser erythropus (Lesser White-fronted Goose)
Anser coerulescens coerulescens (Lesser Snow Goose)
Aythya farina (European Pochard)
Anas clypeata (Common Shoveler)
Anas crecca (European Teal)
Anas penelope (European Wigeon)
Anas platyrhynchos (Mallard)
Anas acuta (European Pintail)
Aythya marila (European Scaup)
Tadorna ferruginea (Ruddy Shelduck)
Anas americans (American Wigeon)
Anas rubripes (Black Duck)
Anas discors (Blue-winged Teal)
Netta rufina (Red-crested Pochard)
Aythya collaris (Ring-necked Duck)
Somateria mollissima (European Eider)
Somateria spectabilis (King Eider)
Polysticta stelleri (Steller's Eider)
Histrionicus histrionicus (Harlequin Duck)
Melanitta perspicillata (Surf Scoter)
Mergus cucullata (Hooded Merganser)
Aix sponsa (Carolina Duck)
Aix galericulata (Mandarin Duck)
Branta leucopsis (Barnacle Goose)
Tadorna tadorna (European Shelduck)
Mergus albellus (Smew)
Cygnus cygnus (Whooper Swan)

Terms and Conditions
3. Any bird sold under this licence must have been bred in captivity. A bird shall not be treated as bred in captivity unless its parents were lawfully in captivity when the egg from which it hatched was laid. Documentary evidence of
captive breeding must accompany any sale, hire, barter or exchange.An egg may only be sold under this licence if it was laid in captivity, by parents lawfully in captivity.
4. The owner of any bird sold under this licence will, if requested by an Official of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, or a Police Officer, make the bird available for a sample of blood to be taken from the bird to be sold. The blood sample will be taken by a qualified veterinary surgeon. Such a sample may be used to establish the ancestry of the bird.
5. This licence is valid in England, unless previously revoked, for the period from January 2007 to 31 December 2007.

The issuing of this general licence exempts keepers and sellers of any of the above wild birds from making individual applications for a licence.

An individual licence is required to sell Certain Captive Bred Species of British Birds i.e. those, which are not listed in the above General Licence. There are not many such species, only about ten I think, including the likes of the Mute Swan, a couple of Scoters and European Goldeneye. No licence is required to keep such birds - only if you sell them. A separate sale exemption may be granted by DEFRA, Temple Quay House, 2, The Square, Bristol, BS11 6EB. As in most large offices these days, there is an abundance of telephone numbers but the DEFRA staff is usually able to transfer a call if necessary. Try 0117 372 8027. Here at Applegarth, the only duck that falls into this category is the European Goldeneye. I regularly apply for a licence to sell it and I have never yet been refused.

The General Licence relates to 'wild birds' and the 1981 Act provisions, with the exception of import/export controls and endangered species regulations, are concerned with 'wild birds'. Since a 'wild bird' is defined as 'any bird of a kind which is ordinarily resident in or is a visitor to Great Britain in a wild state', many birds in collections of ornamental waterfowl are not classed as being wild because they are present only as result of importations and such birds are outside the scope of the 1981 Act - apart from import/export controls and the CITES (The Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) regulations. In other words, and I hope that I have made this clear, the likes of Fulvous Tree Ducks, because they are not indigenous to the UK, can be sold within our shores free of any licence or other paper work requirements.

Attention should be drawn to two further sections of the 1981 Act, which apply more generally to all birds and not just to 'wild' ones.

Firstly, part of Section 8 (Protection of birds in captivity) reads 'Subsection (1): If any person keeps or confines any bird whatever in any cage or other receptacle which is not sufficient in height, length or breadth to permit the bird to stretch its wings freely, he /she shall be guilty of an offence and be liable to a special penalty. However, Subsection (1) does not apply to poultry or to the keeping or confining of any bird (a)
while that bird is in the course of conveyance by whatever means; (b) while that bird is being shown for the purpose of any public exhibition or competition if the time during which the bird is kept or confined for those purposes does not in aggregate exceed 72 hours; or (c) while the bird is undergoing examination or treatment by a veterinary surgeon or veterinary practitioner.'

Secondly, the relevant extract from Section 14 (Release of non-indigenous species) is - 'If any person releases or allows to escape into the wild any animal which (a) is of a kind which is not ordinarily resident in or is not a regular visitor to Great Britain in a wild state; or (b) is included in Part 1 of Schedule 9, he shall be guilty of an offence.' The following five non-indigenous species of Anatidae, having been deemed to be now established in the wild, are listed in Part 1 of Schedule 9:

Aix sponsa (Carolina Wood Duck)
Aix galericulata (Mandarin Duck)
Branta canadensis canadensis (Atlantic Canda Goose)
Alopechen aegyptiacus (Egyptian Goose)
Oxyura jammaicensis (North American Ruddy Duck)

It is worthy to note that, although the first 3 of the above are included in the General Licence No.100095, they must not be released into the wild. Alas, we all know about the unfortunate predicament of the NAR Duck. We can still keep it and/or give it away but we are not allowed to sell it.

The 1981 Act is a mammoth document, (why not procure a copy if you do not already have one?), and space here curtails much more assessment of its implications. So, my final thrust is the reminder that all birds of prey became protected and that the marauding Sparrow Hawk and its close relatives have, since 1981, been free to kill anything they fancy. The originators of the Act did have the wisdom to allow the control of "pest birds" i.e. Carrion Crow, Jackdaw, Feral Pigeon, Starling, Collared Dove, Jay, Rook, Wood Pigeon, Herring Gull. Magpie, Great and Lesser Black-backed Gulls, whilst on one's own land. These birds may be killed in a 'reasonably swift and humane way' and their eggs and nests destroyed. Game birds are not fully protected but they do have their close season. Coots and Moorhens can be a nuisance in excessive numbers but remember that they too have a close season - 1st February to 30th September.

If you can bear to read any more about the Wildlife and Countryside Act there is a previously attempted summary in "Waterfowl" Spring 1986.

The really big one is the ANIMAL WELFARE ACT 2006. Prior to the passing of this act, the law on animal welfare in England and Wales was contained in over 20 pieces of legislation. The 2006 Act, in its 54 pages, encompasses a multitude of matters relative to animal welfare but in my opinion, pinioning is by far the most important to keepers of wildfowl. The act stipulates a general ban on mutilations, with certain exceptions. Before everything is finalised, DEFRA invited consultations. One such is the "Consultation: Draft Mutilations (Permitted Procedures) (England)
Regulations 2007". Our Association was given the opportunity to make representations under these regulations and it has done so. In a nutshell, as Iunderstand the position, wing pinioning of non-farmed birds is a permitted mutilation exemption. An anaesthetic must be administered where the bird is aged 10 days or
over. I think that one of the key issues is that pinioning is a necessary and valuable tool in the prevention of the escape of non-native species into the wild. No-one
wants a repetition of the North American Ruddy Duck fiasco. However, there may still be "i's" to be dotted and "t's" to be crossed. Let us hope that we are allowed to continue to pinion without the imposition of any debilitating restrictions.

What else? Plenty! The Poultry Breeding Flocks and Hatcheries (England) Order 2007 replaced previous similar orders and requires keepers of more that 250 breeding birds of a single species to register with DEFRA and keep a record of all movements. I understand that for this purpose "species" relates to domestic fowls,
turkeys, ducks and geese (all classed as poultry), so one can keep, say, 200 domestic fowl, 100 ducks, 50 geese and 20 turkeys, (total 370) - all breeding birds - without
having to maintain records of movements. However, if, for instance, there are 260 breeding ducks, or any of the other categories, on the premises then records must be kept for that species. Non-breeding birds of any of the 4 categories can exceed 250 and there is no compulsion to register. For example, at the height of the breeding season the number of ducklings being reared for sale may push the figure for that category to more than 250. The PBFHO places no other statutory requirements on owners of breeding flocks of waterfowl as it is primarily designed to focus on large commercial flocks of domestic fowls within the food chain. It therefore seems eminently sensible, that under the order, the only branch of poultry that is affected by Salmonella controls is domestic fowl (Gallus gallus). Here again, the figure of 250 is significant in that the testing for Salmonella is only obligatory where breeding domestic fowl on the holding reaches or exceeds that number. Once more, non-breeding birds are discounted. Flocks of ducks and geese do not have to be tested for Salmonella under the PBFHO.

The Diseases of Poultry (England) Order 2003 is a lengthy document and deals with all aspects of disease. Designated diseases, which I think were previously known as notifiable - and they still are, include paramyxovirus 1 in pigeons, avian influenza and Newcastle disease (Fowl Pest). If any of these break out and you happen to be in the Protection or Surveillance or Restricted zone, and you are listed under the Great Britain Poultry Register, then no doubt you will receive plenty of bumf and advice.

You will recall that it is a legal requirement to register under the GBPR if one keeps 50 or more head of poultry - which includes ducks and geese, and sells any of them.

The Avian Influenza (Preventive Measures) Regulations 2005 requires a GBPR-registered person to make and keep a written record of certain information, which is
relative to the keeping of poultry on the holding. As I write, the Suffolk outbreak of A I is still very topical and you will be aware of the implications. It is to be hoped that all the furore quickly dies down.

In the case of an outbreak of a notifiable disease, a DEFRA-approved disinfectant must be used in order to comply with the Animals (Approved Disinfectants) Order 1978 as amended.

Another regulation, which is more likely to affect only the larger breeder, is a part of the Welfare of Animals (Transport) Order 1997. Article 14 of this order stipulates that an Animal Transport Certificate is required for the transport of many animals, but there are some exceptions. As far as poultry owners are concerned, an ATC is not required if the journey is 50km or less and there are either fewer than 50 birds or the journey is entirely on land occupied by the owner of the poultry. If one is not able to take advantage of this exemption, a fairly simple certificate must be completed. DEFRA will supply a specimen form and the marvel is that it can be completed by oneself. The form must kept for a minimum of 6 months after completion of the journey.

Long gone are the days when we could carry our birds where and when we wished. There is yet another transport matter. The Animal welfare: Implementation of EU Welfare in transport Regulation (EC) No 1/2005 is another extremely lengthy and involved document and demands that w.e.f. 5th January 2007, anyone transporting any live vertebrate animals inside the European Union on journeys of over 65 kilometres (approx. 40 miles) as part of an economic activity must hold a valid Authorisation to do so. In my eyes, this must include the transport of waterfowl to say, an auction mart, and therefore could be applicable to you.

There are two types of Authorisation:

1. A short journey Authorisation (type 1) for journeys over 65 km and up to and including 8 hours duration.
2. A long journey Authorisation (type 2), i.e. over 65 km and over 8 hours duration, which covers both long and short journeys. (Hopefully not applicable to many BWA members.)

Authorisation Certificates will be issued by the State Veterinary Service (SVS) - Tel: 0845 603 8395. The website is too lengthy to publish here. It consists of an unbelievable 91 characters - digits, letters and punctuation marks! Little wonder, since it emanated from the EU.

There is no charge for processing and issuing transporter Authorisations at the time of writing but it is likely that a charge will be introduced during 2007.

Further, my giddy aunt, there is more. W.e.f. 5th January 2008, if you have an Authorisation Certificate, you will also have to hold a Certificate of Competence. As I write, I am unable to obtain more details about this requirement and "copy date" is looming in an alarming manner.

It seems to me that yet again, regulations that are eminently largely sensible and applicable where large numbers of poultry are being transported in lorries, also affect us when we carry a few boxes or crates in our private cars. I think that the net has been cast unjustifiably wide - once more!

The Deadly Dilemma alias, The Disposal of Fallen Stock Regulation, is still with us and it will continue to be so. Although one can bury one's Dad or pet pony in the garden, it is illegal to inter a farm animal therein. Further it is unlawful to subject a dead duck to open burning and it should be handed over, usually with a fee, to an
approved collector unless one has one's own incinerating or rendering plant! The National Fallen Stock Company exists to assist but there is a cost involved. Only carcases, which are free of disease, may be fed to the likes of raptors in aviaries.

If any person mutilates, kicks, beats, nails or otherwise impales, stabs, crushes, drowns, drags or asphyxiates any wild mammal with intent to inflict unnecessary
suffering he/she shall be guilty of an offence under the Wild Mammals (Protection) Act 1996, save as permitted by this Act. (Snares and traps lawfully used are examples of such permission). So how does one deal with a live rat caught in a cage trap? Presumably shoot it with a single bullet.

BSE Feed Ban: Registration of farms keeping ruminant and non-ruminants livestock, which also use feed containing fishmeal. No need to read this unless you have ruminants! Feedingstuffs containing fishmeal, tri or di-calcium phosphate derived from defatted bones, or hydrolysed protein, may not be used or kept where ruminants are bred or fattened for the production of food unless effective measures are taken to prevent the feedingstuff being fed to ruminant animals. The powers that be are most concerned about this and if you feed or keep any of the above substances, which are bracketed together as Derogated Proteins, and have some ruminants on the
premises, you are required to register with the SVS. Poultry Grower pellets, for example, may contain fishmeal. Following registration, you can expect a visit from a vet. who will take samples of food for analysis and satisfy him/herself that all food is being stored properly. Recently, a herd of 68 beef cattle belonging to a Surrey farmer
was slaughtered, without any compensation, following the discovery of meat and bonemeal (sources of DPs) in some of their feed. The feedingstuff in question was
rabbit pellets. The Surrey Trading Standards Officer involved said that incorporating MBM into pet food was still legal, and there was no need to identify it on the label. "But feeding it to cattle is clearly in breach of BSE feed controls". (Incidentally, the labels on the bags of Growers pellets, which arrive here at Applegarth, list fishmeal as an ingredient and we do have a few sheep). The unfortunate farmer is quite probably facing prosecution.

Those of us who have Agricultural Holdings need to be aware of the Agricultural Waste Regulations that come into force shortly - on 15th May 2007. Under the new regulations, occupiers of agricultural holdings need a licence to keep, treat, store or dispose of waste. However, certain activities may be carried out, without a licence, provided that the Environment Agency have been notified and the exemptions, thankfully there 26 of them!) have been registered. As I am a smallholder and burn or shred hedge cuttings, deposit plant tissue at the place of production, (just what does that embrace?), and dredge ponds, I have applied for and been granted exemption registrations for those activities. If the silt from the ponds is not spread upon the banks, such an exercise, along with other operations, which hopefully do not concern many of us, "require some additional information because they can pose a greater risk
to the environment if not carried out properly", as quoted in the E A's Guidance booklet. Compliance with the regulations must be quite a nightmare for many farmers who have materials such as plastic, chemicals, slurry etc to dispose of. Fortunately, waste from farmers' dwellings is not agricultural waste and can be disposed of in the usual manner.

The Zoonoses Order 1989 SI No 285. With reference to poultry, this Order aims to reduce the risk to human health from Salmonella. It allows inquiries, examination and testing of birds etc. for Salmonella. If its presence is confirmed, the premises are
declared as an infected place and movement's vehicles, equipment and litter will be prohibited. Poultry products will be detained and isolated. Poultry may be slaughtered and premises and vehicles will be cleaned and disinfected.

A brief reference to Import and Export may not come amiss. Many years ago, I sent some Philippine ducks to, guess where? - home to Manila! I put them in a box and took them to the airport and that was more or less "it". Not so today. If a bird is a CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) listed, a licence is required from DEFRA in Bristol and a fairly modest fee is payable. Application must be made to a DEFRA Regional Office for a health certificate. This involves an inspection, usually by one's own vet. and at a cost. If transport is to be by air, the container for the bird/s must comply with the IATA (International Air Transport Association) standards. All the above requirements, plus the involvement of umpteen 'phone calls, are usually met without too much hassle. The real stumbling block may arise where the importing country requires the birds to be blood tested. This is a relatively expensive procedure. The cost, along with all one's other expenses, should be passed on to the importer. However, many waterfowl permanently harbour small quantities of Salmonella bacteria, which they may happily live with. However, if present, the bacteria will give a positive blood test reading and the necessary health certificate will not be issued. The bird/s cannot be exported and one is left with considerable non-recoverable expense. More and more countries are now insisting upon blood testing so it is advisable to enquire about this at the outset. Ireland, (both Northern and Eire), for instance, generally require imported birds to be blood tested. However, I have sent birds to these 2 countries under their "Hobby Bird" arrangement, whereby they will accept a small number of birds with the minimum of paperwork and the waiving of testing. Alas, it is no easier in respect of eggs, since similar rulings apply. If blood testing is a factor then the bird which laid the egg must be tested - one could attempt to determine, at a cost, which bird is Salmonella-free. I no longer export birds to areas where blood testing is mandatory.

If by this time your head is not in a complete whirl then I have failed in my deliberations! No, on the contrary I have attempted to keep matters as simple as possible without detracting from or omitting too much vital information. I have highlighted only some of the rules and regulations that may affect us and some of my statements may not be bang up to date since legislation is continually being amended. Existing orders are revoked and new ones introduced apace. I can only advise that queries and observations be directed to the relevant authorities. I have found DEFRA personnel to be most helpful. There are no end of telephone numbers and the DEFRA helpline is 08459 335577 in good old Cumbria. There are myriads of websites, why not start with basic - I expect that many will have already done so. No-one should be deterred from keeping and breeding waterfowl in captivity because of legislation; we share a splendid pastime. I have had to concentrate on the "NOW" aspect, rather than the "Then" but I now (no pun intended!) return to the latter. How did the BWA figure when I joined over 30 years ago? In the interest of brevity, I will merely list some of the salient features:-

The Committees which we have today were not formed until1990.
Prior to that time, the only permanent BWA committee was The Council.
During one period, in the early 80's, the late Mr James Heard was Chairman of the Association and the President was largely a valuable figurehead.
Mr. Heard conducted most of the affairs from his apartment/office in London. The Secretary was in far away Haltwhistle. Fax machines and the Internet had not been invented.
Council meetings were held in Mr.Heard's apartment, commencing at 6 - 0 p.m. I, and other members, often arrived home after midnight.
The AGM was held in the Steering Wheel Club, London. The room was small but there was a feeling of togetherness. I recollect that the subject of mink regularly appeared on the agenda. One member, in particular, continually demanded that pressure be applied on the Government to control the pest.
The first Annual Show & Sale was staged on 28th September 1976 in conjunction with the RBST and some sponsorship from VOLVO. The 28th was a weekday - Tuesday and I recall that the pens were on the floor of one of the livestock sheds. There were 62 lots. A pair of Rouens top-priced at £65.
The membership subscription in 1972 was £1.25.
In 1974 we had no committees, apart from Council, but just look at the impressive Advisory Panel listed on the inside front cover of the 1974 - 75 Yearbook!

That's enough reminiscence!

Alan Birkbeck