Today the news broke that all poultry in England will once again be allowed outside again from the 13th April. Restrictions were first brought in during December 2016 to keep all poultry indoors to protect them from an infectious strain of bird flu.
Defra has now downgraded the risk of avian influenza spread from wild birds, after carrying out a new assessment of the risk they had of becoming infected by wild birds.
This policy change directly impacts the previous ruling stated that Free Range Eggs must carry labels making it clear that the birds had been kept inside for welfare purposes. After Thursday this ruling no longer applies, however, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) announced that once the rules are lifted, all eggs from birds which remain housed are no longer considered to be free range and cannot be labelled as such.
Even though the downgrading will let poultry farmers breathe a sigh of relief, new strict biosecurity measures and a ban on poultry gatherings will continue to remain in place so things arenâ€™t back to normal just yet.
Professor Nigel Gibbens, Chief Veterinary Officer commented that, “Based on the latest evidence on reduced numbers of migratory and resident aquatic wild birds, we believe that kept birds in the areas we previously designated as higher risk are now at the same level of risk as the rest of England and may now be let outside.â€ť
â€śThe risk from avian flu has not gone away and a prevention zone remains in place, requiring keepers across England to take steps to prevent disease spreading.”
Whilst England has had the risk level lowered the Scottish government had previously confirmed that restrictions on bird keepers in Scotland are staying in place until the end of April. Measures in Wales have already been relaxed.
Article: Andrew Parker, draperVENT