UK 'Postcode Lottery' of Bird Flu Rules Confirmed

UK - The Government Chief Vet has confirmed new measures to protect against avian flu that take a more targeted approach to controlling the disease.
calendar icon 27 February 2017
clock icon 3 minute read

Following plans set out earlier this month, all poultry keepers across England must continue to observe strict biosecurity measures, with housing or netting required in higher risk areas.

This approach is based on the current situation and the latest veterinary advice, which concludes that it is the best option to control disease, protect birds’ welfare and ensure consumers can buy free range products.

The news follows confirmation of a new outbreak of the H5N8 strain of the disease in a small flock of chickens at a farm near Haltwhistle, Northumberland, holding about 35 birds.

The new approach will apply from 28 February, when the current prevention zone expires. It gives most keepers the option to let birds outside whilst still taking reasonable precautions against avian flu. The ban on poultry gatherings remains in force.

All poultry keepers - whether they keep a commercial flock or a few chickens in their back garden - must continue to practise strict disease prevention measures, following Defra’s guidance to take steps to reduce the risk of infection via the environment.

However, some poultry producers are unhappy because the rules in Scotland and Wales differ, which the British Free Range Egg Producers Association says is creating a 'postcode lottery' for restrictions.

Chief Veterinary Officer Nigel Gibbens said: "Effective disease control will always be our priority. H5N8 continues to circulate in wild birds and we must all continue to do everything we can to reduce the risk of disease. All keepers across the country must follow strict mandatory disease prevention measures.

"Based on clear scientific evidence, the risk from wild birds is too high in some areas of England to rely on biosecurity measures alone. That’s why we are requiring birds in Higher Risk Areas to be housed or protected from wild bird contact by netting."

Further Reading

You can visit the avian flu page by clicking here.

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