Return to Free Range:
The designated Higher Risk Areas (HRAs) in England will be lifted at 00.01am on Thursday 13th April.
Therefore the requirement for housing birds in designated Higher Risk Areas and voluntary housing in Lower Risk areas will no longer be in place. It is important to note however, that all poultry keepers in England will continue to be required to comply with strict biosecurity measures.
A ban on poultry gatherings also remains in force until further notice. This is not just a return to “business as usual” as wild waterfowl, migrating or resident may carry H5N8 or other serious strains of Avian Influenza viruses.
It is important to note that anyone keeping designated free range birds housed without full access to range after the 13th April will have to market and label all eggs as Barn as the overstickering option expires on this date.
In preparation for return to free range, we would urge free range producers to do the following, prior to any release of birds:
- Concrete areas around the shed should be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected.
- Poached areas on the range should be drained where possible and in any case disinfected with products such as Stalosan or Saniblanc D.
- Walk the range area and confirm no areas contaminated with obvious wild bird faeces or other wild waterfowl presence – if detected clean up or prevent bird access to such areas.
- If there is open water within 100 metres of the range area consider fencing off or filling in ponds or other open water (subject to local planning regulations) to prevent bird access
- Birds should have access to plenty of grit, this should be increased in the days before release.
- Grass on the range should be cut short before release.
- Initially giving access to the range from midday onwards to minimise contact with wild birds is advised.
- Continue with wild bird monitoring and wild-bird scaring procedures to minimise risk of contact on the range.
- If vaccinating for Infectious Bronchitis (IB) in-lay, it is recommended that you vaccinate before releasing to the range.
- Supplements to aid the transition between housed and free range can be given on consultation with your vet.
- Ensure all biosecurity measures are in place.
- Visit the Defra website for more updates via the following link:
If you would like to discuss any of the points further, please do not hesitate to contact Crowshall Veterinary Services.