NFUS Welcomes Announcement on Bird Housing Change

Avian Influenza risk reduced but need for vigilance on biosecurity remains

NFU Scotland’s Poultry Working Group has welcomed the announcement that, from Monday 2 May, housing measures placed on birds in late November 2021 because of Avian Influenza will be lifted.

While poultry keepers will be keen to return free range birds outdoors, the warning is that the risk of Avian Influenza has only been reduced from ‘Very High’ to ‘High’ so poultry keepers, regardless of the size of flock, must continue to maintain high levels of biosecurity to protect flocks from the devastating disease.

Across the UK, there have been more than 100 Avian Influenza cases in the past six months, the largest number of outbreaks of bird flu ever recorded, with several incidents in Scotland.

NFU Scotland’s Poultry Working Group Chair, Robert Thompson said: “The protection of the national flock and our industry remains our main priority.

“After what has been an incredibly challenging time, we welcome the decision to allow the birds back outdoors.  Our poultry keepers have been living with the threat from Avian Influenza for several years, but this year was exceptional and very large numbers of AI cases meant that the housing order has been in place for much longer than normal.

“It must be noted that the risk has only been reduced from Very High to High which means poultry keepers of all sizes preparing to release birds from 2 May onwards still need to maintain high levels of biosecurity and be vigilant, as this disease knows no boundaries.”  

Notes for editors

  • From 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. All poultry gatherings will remain banned.
  • Those who intend to allow their birds outside are advised to use the upcoming days to prepare their outside areas for the release of their birds. This will include cleansing and disinfection of hard surfaces, fencing off ponds or standing water and reintroduction of wild bird deterrents.
  • The Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) will remain in force across the UK, with only the housing measures component being lifted from Monday 2 May. This means all bird keepers (whether they have pet birds, a commercial sized or a backyard flock) must be diligent in continuing to take effective and precautionary 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.
  • All keepers are encouraged to register their flocks with the Animal and Plant Health Agency. For poultry this is a legal requirement if you have 50 birds or more (poultry includes chickens, ducks, turkeys, geese, pigeon (bred for meat), partridge, quail, guinea fowl and pheasants). Registering means that keepers will be contacted with information or action required should an outbreak happen near them.
  • The public continue to be urged to not touch or pick up any dead or sick birds that they find but to report. If you find dead swans, geese or ducks or other dead wild birds, such as gulls or birds of prey, you should report them to the Defra helpline on 03459 33 55 77.


Contact Bob Carruth on 07788 927675

Author: Bob Carruth

Date Published:

News Article No.: 28/22

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About The Author

Bob Carruth

A dairy farmer’s son, I joined NFU Scotland in 1999 after 13 years as an agricultural journalist. Following spells as a regional manager and policy lead on milk, livestock and animal health and welfare, I became Communications Director in 2008.

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