HOUSING measures for poultry and captive birds have finally been lifted following a number of Bird Flu outbreaks in Cumbria.  

Poultry and other captive birds can be kept outside, as of today (May 2, 2022) after 7 months of restrictions. 

There have been several cases of bird flu in north and west Cumbria in recent months in Eden Valley and Allerdale. 

For the last few weeks, free-range eggs had to have stickers or labels marking them as “barn eggs” and supermarkets had to display information in-store and online to tell consumers what is happening and why.

It is expected the free-range eggs will start to appear on shelves within a few days from May 2, however, eggs laid before then that are still labelled as “barn eggs” may take a few days to sell.

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 UK has faced its largest ever outbreak of bird flu with over 100 cases confirmed across the country since late October.

It affects not only birds kept in people's homes, like chickens and turkeys, but swans and geese in ponds, the former of which saw a fatal outbreak in Hammond's Pond earlier this year.

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Scrupulous biosecurity is the most effective method of disease control available and all bird keepers should apply enhanced measures at all times to prevent the risk of future outbreaks.

Public health advice remains that the risk to human health from the virus is very low and food standards bodies advise that avian influenzas pose a very low food safety risk for UK consumers. Do not touch or pick up any dead or sick birds that you find and instead report them to the relevant helpline below. There is no impact on the consumption of properly cooked poultry products including eggs.

UK Chief Veterinary Officer Christine Middlemiss 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 vital that bird keepers remain vigilant for signs of disease and maintain stringent standards of biosecurity."

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