The UK has been facing the largest outbreak of avian influenza on record since October 2021, impacting hundreds of farm businesses and backyard keepers across the country.
In October 2022 alone, 88 cases of H5N1 were confirmed, and millions of birds were culled to prevent any further spread.
The significant increase in cases led to the housing order being put in place across England from the 7th November 2022, and across Wales and Northern Ireland from the 28th November, adjacent to the operation of Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ). Birds in Scotland were not placed under a housing order.
On 18th April 2023, the housing measures were lifted in England, Northern Ireland and Wales, following a fall in the number of cases of avian influenza. The lifting of housing measures was triggered after the assessment of the risk of incursion of highly pathogenic avian influenza in poultry being exposed to avian influenza in Great Britain was changed to low (with high uncertainty).
The AIPZ will remain in England and Wales as the threat of the avian influenza still remains even if the number of cases has decreased. Farmers and backyard poultry keepers must continue to practise good biosecurity measures regularly to protect their livestock from contacting avian influenza and other diseases.
With the housing order now lifted, it is not advisable for farmers and backyard poultry keepers to stop following good biosecurity measures and lawful practices.
Richard Irvine, the Chief Veterinary Officer for Wales said “Rigorous and scrupulous hygiene and biosecurity measures offer the best protection for kept birds against avian influenza. Whether keepers have a few birds or a thousand, it is vital the very highest standards of biosecurity are maintained.”
In addition to Irvine’s statements, Dr Christine Middlemiss, the UK’s Chief Veterinary Officer highlighted that “scrupulous biosecurity” is the most critical form of defence to keep birds safe and stated that “The unprecedented nature of this outbreak has proven it’s more important than ever for bird keepers to remain vigilant for signs of disease and maintain stringent standards of biosecurity.”
Biosecurity measures you can follow
Biosecurity alludes to the measures put in place to prevent harmful organisms such as bacteria and viruses, from spreading onto animals and plants. To find out more about biosecurity, watch our informative video here.
Biosecurity helps to prevent diseases from spreading on your premises which can impact the health of your livestock. Following strict biosecurity measures will significantly reduce the likelihood of infectious diseases impacting your birds.
How Livetec can support your biosecurity needs
Livetec are leaders in biosecurity. The team consists of experts who can design tailored biosecurity plans to help protect your premise and livestock. Livetec has developed well-researched solutions that are supported by professional bodies. The solutions adhere to government guidelines.