Mandatory housing measures for poultry and captive birds, which were introduced across England and Wales to help stop the spread of bird flu, have now been lifted from 00:01 on Tuesday 18 April 2023.
Following ongoing monitoring using the latest scientific evidence and a robust risk assessment, bird flu risk levels have been reduced meaning poultry and other captive birds will no longer need to be housed and can be kept outside, unless they are in a Protection Zone. The decision means that from 18 April, eggs laid by hens with access to outside range areas can return to being marketed as ‘Free-Range’ eggs.
The scale of avian influenza outbreaks across the UK and Europe have been unprecedented with over 330 cases confirmed across the country since late October 2021. While the risk of bird flu has been reduced to ‘medium’ for premises with poor biosecurity, the enhanced biosecurity requirements that were brought in as part of the Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) will remain in force as infection may still be circulating in the environment for several more weeks. The risk of bird flu remains assessed as low where good biosecurity is applied.
Those who intend to allow their birds outside are advised to prepare their outside areas for the release of their birds. This will include cleansing and disinfection of hard surfaces, fencing off ponds or standing water and reintroduction of wild bird deterrents.
Keepers should familiarise themselves with the avian flu advice and report suspicion of disease to APHA on 03000 200 301.
Poultry includes for example chickens, ducks, turkeys, geese, pigeon (bred for meat), partridge, quail, guinea fowl and pheasants.
Captive birds are any birds kept in captivity, other than poultry, and includes for example – pet birds, birds kept for shows, races, exhibitions, competitions, breeding or sale.
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