Bird keepers urged to be remain vigilant as some avian flu measures are eased
The mandatory housing measures for poultry and captive birds, which were introduced late last year to help stop the spread of bird flu, will be lifted from 00:01 on Monday 2 May.
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.
According to the Welsh Government, 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 Minister for Rural Affairs and North Wales, and Trefnydd Lesley Griffiths, declared an all-Wales Avian Influenza Prevention Zone which came into force on 3 November 2021 and on 29 November 2021, the declaration was extended.
It became a legal requirement to house your birds, or keep them separated from wild birds.
On 29 March 2022, the declaration was amended to allow pigeon racing and the release of doves and other columbiformes.
Since late October, the UK has faced its largest ever outbreak of bird flu with over 100 cases confirmed.
In a joint statement, the UK’s 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 2nd May. This means all bird keepers (whether they have pet birds, a commercial sized or a backyard flock) must continue taking 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 are urged to be on the look out for any signs of disease in their birds and any wild birds, and seek prompt advice from their vet if they have any concerns.
Public health advice is that the risk to human health is very low. The Food Standards Agency and Food Standards Scotland advise that avian influenza poses a very low food safety risk for UK consumers, and it does not change their current advice on consumption of poultry products including eggs.
Bird keepers should report suspicion of disease in Wales to 0300 303 8268.
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