Housing restrictions for poultry that were introduced in mid-December due to the threat of Avian Influenza (AI) will be lifted from midnight tonight (31 March).
Vigilance against Avian Influenza still required
However, with a new case recorded in Cheshire last week, poultry keepers are urged to keep strict biosecurity measures in place and ensure contact between poultry and wild birds is prevented. The Avian Influenza Protection Zone (AIPZ) requiring enhanced biosecurity will remain in force across GB but today (31 March) is the last day poultry will need to be housed.
NFU Scotland’s Poultry Policy Manager Penny Middleton said
The decision to lift the requirement for all poultry keepers, large and small, to house their birds is great news. It reflects the hard work put in by all poultry keepers in complying with the rules and reflects the reduced risk Avian Influenza (AI) now presents.
However, last week’s new case of AI in turkeys emphasises that high standards of biosecurity remain essential as infection may still be present in wild birds. All bird keepers, whether they have large commercial flocks or a few backyard hens, are legally required to meet enhanced biosecurity requirements under the AIPZ to protect their birds from this highly infectious virus.
While the threat of AI has decreased, it is still incredibly important that everyone who keeps birds remains vigilant and, if you intend to allow your birds outside, you must take action to prepare the outside areas for their safe release.
It is critical that keepers prevent contact directly or indirectly between their birds and wild birds by releasing into a fenced area; fencing off ponds and watercourses if possible and protecting bedding, feeding and water.