Mandatory housing measures to combat growing cases of Avian Flu have been lifted across the UK.
This means free range eggs will once again be available on supermarket shelves.
The UK’s four chief veterinary officers confirmed on April 25 that poultry and other captive birds will no longer need to be housed unless they are in a ‘Protection Zone’, and will be allowed to be kept outside.
While the risk of bird flu has been reduced to ‘medium’ for premises with poor biosecurity, the Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) will remain in force as infection may still be circulating in the environment for several more weeks.
As part of the enforcement of the AIPZ, all poultry gatherings will continue to remain banned.
The UK Government has also advised those who intend to allow their poultry outside to use the upcoming days to prepare their outside areas for the release of their birds, including cleansing and disinfection of hard surfaces, fencing off ponds or standing water and reintroduction of wild bird deterrents.
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 vital that bird keepers remain vigilant for signs of disease and maintain stringent standards of biosecurity.”
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.