A REDUCTION in bird flu levels means 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 also 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 enhanced biosecurity requirements that were brought in as part of the Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) will remain in force, however, as infection may still be circulating in the environment for several more weeks.
Dr Christine Middlemiss, the UK’s chief veterinary officer, said: “While the lifting of the mandatory housing measures will be welcome news to bird keepers, scrupulous biosecurity remains the most critical form of defence to help keep your birds safe.
“It is thanks to the hard work of all bird keepers and vets who have played their part in keeping flocks safe this winter that we are in a position to take this action.
“However, the unprecedented nature of this outbreak has proven it’s more important than ever for bird keepers to remain vigilant for signs of disease and maintain stringent standards of biosecurity.
“Those who intend to allow their birds outside are advised to use the upcoming days 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.”