The British Egg Industry Council (BEIC), which represents more than 95% of UK free range egg production, has welcomed Defra’s announcement that the risk of avian influenza has reduced sufficiently for all free range hens in England to be allowed back outside in time for Easter.
Defra has removed the requirement to keep poultry in Higher Risk Areas of England housed or completely enclosed in netting, introduced to minimise the risk of them catching avian flu from wild birds. It has advised that all areas of England should still be considered at risk from avian influenza, but that from 13 April, free range egg producers can let their birds outside again, with additional biosecurity measures in place.
Egg producers in England will gradually be introducing their free range birds to roam outside again this week and all are expected to be outside by Easter. Producers in Scotland and Wales are also expected to allow their free range birds outside.
Defra has advised all poultry keepers to continue to take steps to reduce the risk to their birds, including minimising movement in and out of bird enclosures, cleaning footwear, keeping areas where birds live clean and tidy.
BEIC Chief Executive Mark Williams comments: “The UK has the largest number of free range hens in Europe so we are delighted to be able to let all our free range birds roam freely again. We are proud of the high standards of British free range farms and will continue to maintain the highest standards of biosecurity to ensure that birds are protected from avian influenza.”
For further information, please contact the British Egg Information Service on 020 7052 8899