RESTRICTIONS are to be relaxed to allow more poultry-keepers to keep their birds outside as efforts continue to combat avian flu.
A farm in Northumberland today became the latest outbreak of the disease to be identified, following cases across the country including North Yorkshire and Lincolnshire.
The Government has now confirmed that from the end of the month only keepers in areas deemed ‘higher risk’ will have to keep birds netted or indoors.
But all keepers have been urged to continue to apply strict disease prevention measures.
Chief veterinary officer Nigel Gibbens said: “Effective disease control will always be our priority. H5N8 continues to circulate in wild birds and we must all continue to do everything we can to reduce the risk of disease. All keepers across the country must follow strict mandatory disease prevention measures.
“Based on clear scientific evidence, the risk from wild birds is too high in some areas of England to rely on biosecurity measures alone.
“That’s why we are requiring birds in Higher Risk Areas to be housed or protected from wild bird contact by netting.
“We believe this is the best approach to control disease, protect birds’ welfare and ensure consumers can buy free range products. As with any disease control measures these will be kept under review based on the latest situation and up-to-date scientific advice.”