Avian influenza is still a threat

Despite today seeing the lifting of poultry lockdown regulations which were introduced in mid-December due to the threat of Avian Influenza (AI), poultry keepers have been warned to remain on their guard.

With two cases recorded in the UK over the last week, poultry and other bird keepers have been urged to keep strict biosecurity measures in place and ensure contact between poultry and wild birds is prevented.

And while the housing requirement has been lifted, the Avian Influenza Protection Zone (AIPZ) requiring enhanced biosecurity remains in force across GB.

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NFU Scotland’s poultry policy manager, Penny Middleton said that while the lifting of the housing restriction was good news and a sign of a reduced risk, vigilance was still required.

“Last week’s case of AI in turkeys emphasises that high standards of biosecurity remain essential as infection may be present in wild birds.”

Middleton said that all bird keepers, whether of large commercial flocks or a few backyard hens, were legally required to meet enhanced biosecurity requirements under the AIPZ to protect their birds from the highly infectious virus.

“While the threat of AI has decreased, it is still important that everyone who keeps birds remains vigilant and, if you intend to allow your birds outside, you must take action to prepare the outside areas for their safe release.”

Preventing contact with wild birds was critical and ponds and watercourses should be fenced off where possible and bedding, feeding and watering areas protected.

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