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Hebrides News


Restrictions on poultry and captive birds following bird flu outbreaks in the UK has been extended until the end of April.

The legal measures aims to keep chickens away from wild birds to reduce their risk of being infected with the “highly pathogenic” H5N8 strain by migratory wildfowl and gulls.

However, the present ban on free roaming poultry will be relaxed to protect the status of free-range flocks.

When chickens are housed for over 12 weeks, their eggs may not be classed as free-range.

From 28 February keepers will be allowed the option of letting poultry outside, provided enhanced biosecurity is in place to minimise the risk of infection from wild birds.

Until then all poultry must be kept birds indoors, unless keepers take appropriate practical steps to keep them separate from wild birds.

While there have been no cases confirmed in domestic poultry or captive birds in Scotland, there have been several cases in England and Wales.

Waves of the virus been found in birds across Europe, Africa and Asia.

Rural Economy Secretary, Fergus Ewing, said: “We continue to see daily reports of avian flu across Europe, including eight confirmed cases in domestic birds in England and Wales, with Northern Ireland recently confirming their first finding in a wild bird, too.

“We do not expect the risk of H5N8 to reduce any time soon, which is why we are extending the prevention zone until the end of April.”

akeholders to protect poultry and captive birds from disease and minimise the economic impact of the Prevention Zone on Scotland’s vital free range poultry industry, which is estimated to be worth around £46 million in 2016.

That is why, from 28 February, we are changing the requirements, having listened to requests from industry stakeholders and their representatives, to allow producers to be able to start letting their birds out, provided they have enhanced biosecurity measures in place.”


Bird flu measures extended by two months

9 February 2017