Avian Flu Update - Removal of housing requirement in Higher Risk Areas from 13 April

Removal of housing requirement in Higher Risk Areas from 13 April 

The Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) have today announced https://www.gov.uk/government/news/updated-measures-to-protect-poultry-against-avian-flu that all poultry in England are to be allowed outside from Thursday 13 April following updated evidence on the risk posed by wild birds. 
The requirement to house or fully net poultry in Higher Risk Areas of England, introduced on 28 February to minimise the risk of them catching avian flu from wild birds, will be lifted. 
All poultry keepers must however continue to implement the enhanced biosecurity measures we introduced on 28 February. This includes taking steps to reduce the risk to their birds, including minimising movement in and out of bird enclosures, cleaning footwear, keeping areas where birds live clean and tidy and feeding birds indoors. If you have over 500 birds there are additional measures which you also must continue to implement: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/updated-measures-to-protect-poultry-against-avian-flu . 

The ban on poultry gatherings announced on 20 December also remains in place. 
The decision to lift the housing requirement is based on the latest scientific evidence and veterinary advice, which concludes that the level of risk to poultry in the Higher Risk Areas has now reduced to the same level as that across the rest of England. This is because of changes in the wild bird population: the majority of over-wintering migratory birds have now left the UK, and resident wild waterfowl are at their lowest levels and entering the breeding season when they become less likely to move long distances to forage for food. 

The risk of poultry becoming infected from H5N8 remains heightened and countries across Europe continue to experience outbreaks and observe cases in wild birds. Defra is stepping up surveillance of wild birds across the UK to inform our risk assessments. 

Poultry keepers who are planning to let their birds outdoors on Thursday are strongly advised to take action now to minimise any residual contamination in outdoor areas by following the guidance on GOV.UK: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/avian-influenza-bird-flu#detailed-advice. They are also advised to consult with their private vet if they are worried about the risk of their birds becoming infected. 
Defra Exotic Disease Control 10 April 2017

With reference from the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA)

Related SEV Branch