Avian influenza housing measures lifted

The mandatory housing measures for poultry and captive birds, which were introduced across the United Kingdom to help stop the spread of bird flu, were lifted on Monday 2 May 2022, the Chief Veterinary Officers have confirmed today.

Poultry and other captive birds no longer need to be housed, unless they are in a Protection Zone, and are allowed to be kept outside. While the risk of bird flu has been reduced to ‘medium’ for premises with poor biosecurity, the enhanced biosecurity requirements that were brought in as part of the Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) will remain in force as infection may still be circulating in the environment for several more weeks. All poultry gatherings will remain banned.

The UK has faced its largest ever outbreak of bird flu with over 100 cases confirmed across the country since late October. Scrupulous biosecurity is the most effective method of disease control available and all bird keepers should apply enhanced measures at all times to prevent the risk of future outbreaks.

In a joint statement, the four Chief Veterinary Officers said:

“Whilst 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 recent cases of avian influenza show that it’s more important than ever for bird keepers to remain vigilant for signs of disease and maintain stringent standards of biosecurity.”

The Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) will remain in force across the UK, with only the housing measures component being lifted from Monday 2 May. This means all bird keepers (whether they have pet birds, a commercial sized or a backyard flock) must be diligent in continuing to take effective and precautionary biosecurity measures including cleansing and disinfecting equipment, clothing and vehicles, limiting access to non-essential people on their sites, and workers changing clothing and footwear before entering and when leaving bird enclosures.

Poultry and captive bird keepers must be vigilant for any signs of disease in their birds and any wild birds, and seek prompt advice from their vet if they have any concerns.

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