All poultry in England are to be allowed outside from Thursday 13 April 2017, ending the requirement to keep them housed, or completely enclosed in netting, in Higher Risk Areas. Following updated evidence on the reduced risk posed by migratory wild birds the UK’s Chief Veterinary Officer has announced that although the Prevention Zone remains, the temporary housing order has been lifted.
The continuing Prevention Zone, as also seen in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, requires all poultry keepers to practice the highest levels of biosecurity. The ban on poultry gathering remains in force in England until further notice.
The decision to lift the Higher Risk Areas is based around the fact that the majority of over-wintering migratory birds have now left the UK to head to their breeding grounds. Wild birds remaining in the UK are also entering their breeding season and are therefore less likely to travel long distances.
The risk of poultry becoming infected with Avian Flu remains heightened, and with other countries across Europe still experiencing outbreaks, Defra will be stepping up their surveillance of wild birds.
A Countryside Alliance spokesman said, “We thank our members and supporters for their continued and dedicated work at reducing the risk of further avian flu outbreaks. As a lower risk is unfortunately ever present it is essential vigilance in the countryside remains high, and strict bio-security measures are maintained for those that own poultry, especially as the virus can survive for several weeks in bird droppings.
“We will continue to update our members when new advice becomes available.”