DEFRA publishes plan to adopt targeted approach to AI prevention Zone when current housing order expires on 28th February 2017

9th February 2017

The housing order will be lifted (subject to stringent biosecurity controls) across England with the exception of “higher risk areas”- Defra will publish a detailed map today indicating the “higher risk” areas- if you are a free range producer then you must check the DEFRA website to see if you farm is located in a “higher risk” area so that you can take appropriate action. 

The DEFRA Guidance is available by clicking the following link

Why have “higher risk” areas been proposed?

The Government has carried out a scientific review of the current AIPZ and based on their risk assessment of the latest situation with H5N8 feel it’s necessary to put in place mandatory biosecurity measures across the country (England) and continued housing or range netting in “higher risk” areas from 28th February until the end of April at which time the measures will be reviewed.

A) Summary of proposed options from 28 February:
• Housing – option open to all areas of England (you lose your free range marketing status if you voluntarily house your birds) coupled with enhanced biosecurity for all keepers of poultry (see Annex 4 of the attached AIPZ Planned Control Documents)
• Total netting/aviaries/covered runs – option open to all areas of England
• Supervised access to enclosed outdoor areas – this option is currently not permitted and will only be available outside the High Risk Areas after 28th February.
B) What you can/must do after 28th February
• Birds can be let out in non high risk areas of England (see paragraph 4 below on high risk areas and Annex 4 of the attached document) after proactive steps have been taken to prepare the outdoor area (see next paragraph 3). If you are in a high risk area then you CANNOT let your birds out unless the range is fully netted – if housed will lose free range marketing status.
• You can continue to market your birds as free range as long as they meet the requirements of the EU legislation – see paragraph 5 below. (if you are in high risk area and house your birds, then in the case of meat birds only those birds slaughtered up to and including the 28th March can be marketed as free range)
• Implement Standard Biosecurity Measures (See Annex 3)

If you are NOT in a “high risk” area and have agreed to let your birds out after the 28th February then you should take the following action in preparation, to reduce the risk of introduction of Avian Influenza in to your flocks.

• The range area should be prepared in advance of letting birds out so it’s advisable to start that work now.  You’ll find the list of recommended actions on page 6 (planning and preparing) in the attached  AIPZ Planned Control Documents. These include making the range unattractive to wild birds, keeping wild birds off the range (use of bird scarers), decontamination/sanitisation of the range, reduce spread by people or objects, application of disinfectants.
• The range area should be fully fenced so that birds cannot roam outside this fenced area
• Ponds or standing water that cannot be drained or fenced off should be covered or netted to discourage wild birds
• Ducks or geese must not range alongside other types of poultry


1) Consult the DEFRA interactive map to see if you farm is wholly in a high risk area
2) In HRAs, birds must be housed or kept in fenced and fully covered or netted areas (free range status would be lost if birds were housed)- practically achieving the required netted area will be very difficult.
3) Ducks and geese which cannot easily be housed will have to be kept in totally netted areas, even if it means netting a smaller area than they currently occupy
4) It’s important to note you will only be considered to be a in a High Risk Area (HRA) if the whole of the poultry premises falls within this area.  If any part of the premises falls outside the HRA, then it will not be considered to be in a HRA.

Note this these measures apply in England only.  The Devolved Administrations of Scotland and Wales have yet to announce their intentions post 28th February.  The current AIPZ in Northern Ireland doesn’t expire until 17th March.

Free range marketing status after 28th February- Free range poultry meat producers can continue to label their product as free range after 28th February unless they have to continue to house in a high risk area in which case they will lose free range status after 28 March. 

We recommend that all producers have a documented biosecurity plan to cover off these points to ensure compliance with the guidance.