The UK government has ordered all birds to be kept inside ‘to limit the spread of and eradicate’ avian flu.
The new measures, which come into force on December 14, follow multiple outbreaks of bird flu on UK farms and apply to all bird keepers (including commercial flocks and domesticated pets).
‘Highly infectious disease’
A joint statement from Great Britain’s three Chief Veterinary Officers said: “We have taken swift action to limit the spread of the disease and are now planning to introduce a legal requirement for all poultry and captive bird keepers to keep their birds housed or otherwise separate from wild birds.
“Whether you keep just a few birds or thousands, from 14 December onwards you will be legally required to keep your birds indoors, or take appropriate steps to keep them separate from wild birds. We have not taken this decision lightly, but it is the best way to protect your birds from this highly infectious disease.”
Eggs can continue to be labeled as ‘free-range’ for 16 weeks after the measures have taken effect. After that, they’re to be labeled as ‘barn eggs’.
For poultry, meat can be marketed as free-range to for 12 weeks after December 14.
Bird flu risk
Last month, the government increased the risk of bird flu hitting the UK from low to medium.
Since then, several outbreaks have been reported, resulting in thousands of chickens, turkeys, and other birds being culled.
The most recent outbreak was discovered on a farm in North Yorkshire, where a confirmed case of the H5N8 virus saw more than 10,000 turkeys be killed. Reports say there has never been a confirmed case of this particular type of avian flu in humans.