Avian Influenza housing measures to be lifted
Compulsory housing measures for poultry and captive birds are set to be lifted at the end of this month, the chief veterinary officer from England, Scotland and Wales has announced.
The housing measures, which came in across Great Britain in December, were implemented to protect flocks across the country from the disease which is circulating in wild birds.
Defra, the Scottish Government and Welsh Government have confirmed that the current measures are due to be relaxed, provided that there are no new significant cases between now and the end of March. The last confirmed case in poultry in Great Britain was over a month ago on 12th February in Scotland.
Enhanced biosecurity requirements that were brought in as part of the Avian Influenza Protection Zone (AIPZ) on 11th November will remain in place, however.
“While the threat of Avian Influenza has decreased, it is still incredibly important that everyone who keeps birds remains vigilant and continues to follow enhanced biosecurity measures.”
In a joint statement, Great Britain’s three chief veterinary officers said: “This will be welcome news for poultry keepers across the country who have put great effort into keeping their flocks safe this winter.
“We have taken swift action to contain and eliminate this disease and all bird keepers – whether they have just a few birds or thousands – must continue do their bit to maintain strict biosecurity measures on their premises so that we do not lose the progress that we have made over the past few months as low risk does not mean no risk.”
NFU chief poultry adviser, Aimee Mahony, added: “All poultry keepers have played a crucial role in minimising the threat of Avian Influenza and have therefore contributed to allowing these measures to be lifted.
“It will be a great relief to farmers with free-range flocks that have had to house their birds for over three months due to these government-imposed measures, and they will be pleased that they can once again give their birds access to the outside range area.
“While the threat of Avian Influenza has decreased, it is still incredibly important that everyone who keeps birds remains vigilant and continues to follow enhanced biosecurity measures, whether they are a commercial farmer with thousands of birds or somebody with one hen in the garden.”