About AVIAN INFLUENZA (bird flu)
Ensuring the safety of commercial poultry
Since the autumn of 2016, outbreaks of a particularly virulent strain of highly pathogenic avian influenza (subtype H5N8) have been found in wild birds across Europe. As migratory birds, particularly water fowl, fly across Europe they can infect poultry in other countries. Millions of birds have already died across Europe.
In order to protect poultry in the UK an Avian Influenza Prevention Zone is in place. As a result free range hens were housed from 6 December 2016 in Great Britain and 23 December 2016 in Northern Ireland.
The good news is that Defra has announced that the risk of avian influenza has reduced sufficiently for the higher risk areas in England to be removed, thereby allowing all free range hens in England to be allowed back outside (from 13 April 2017) in time for Easter. Producers in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are also expected to allow their free range birds outside.