Poultry Register data to be used for wider DEFRA activities

DEFRA and the Welsh Assembly Government are to use details of over 24,000 poultry premises held on the GB Poultry Register in England and Wales for a raft of contained have extended to many other areas, including the planning of official farm visits.

The Register was set up in December 2005 in response to the increased threat of avian flu outbreaks. Poultry keepers with more than 50 birds are legally required to provide essential information about their premises to populate the Register. Up to now, the information has been only used for avian flu risk assessment, prevention and control.

But under the change, information on the register will be used in compiling statistics, facilitating ad-hoc surveys and the planning of visits related to legislation on veterinary medicines and animal welfare (see panel).

DEFRA minister Jeff Rooker said: “The additional uses of the Register will make the best of this valuable resource. We fully recognise the sensitivities and risks around data sharing and take very seriously our responsibilities for the proper handling of personal data.

“We will ensure that procedures and safeguards are in place to protect the personal data of poultry keepers and that these are consistent with the advice and recommendations from the report in June 2008 by the Cabinet Secretary on data handling in government and from the recently completed independent review on data sharing by Richard Thomas and Mark Walport.”

He added: “Poultry keepers stand to benefit from better joined up working within government reducing the need to ask them for the same data on numerous occasions. There are also benefits for the taxpayer from potential cost savings in the control of exotic and endemic poultry diseases, as well as public health benefits from improved control of zoonotic poultry diseases.”

New uses of poultry register data

  • management of other poultry diseases, including other notifiable diseases and zoonoses

  • planning, response and recovery by the emergency services and other responders in civil emergencies affecting poultry premises

  • planning of visits related to legislation on veterinary medicines and animal welfare

  • providing information to the EC to substantiate UK claims for compensation from the EU in the event of a disease outbreak

  • informing the work of DEFRA and Welsh Assembly Government statisticians and economists in the development of evidence-based policy

  • informing the annual agricultural census and hence enabling the poultry questions to be removed from the census

  • facilitating (non-commercial) ad-hoc surveys as part of DEFRA and Welsh Assembly Government’s regional and national activities

  • informing the development of future customer contact management and registration as part of Animal Health’s Business Reform Programme