The Avian Influenza Prevention Zone covering Scotland will be extended until at least 30 April, the Scottish Government has confirmed.
The renewed zone applies to all poultry and captive birds and comes into effect on 28 February 2017. It permits keepers in all areas of Scotland to let their birds outside provided that they have enhanced biosecurity in place, and replaces the zone first declared on 6 December 2016. A GB-wide ban on poultry shows and gatherings also remains in force.
Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy Fergus Ewing said: “The risk from Avian Influenza H5N8 remains, with another confirmed case in domestic birds in England as recently as last week.
“It is essential that bird keepers comply with the biosecurity requirements set out in the declaration, and in further guidance available on the Scottish Government website.
“We have listened carefully to key industry stakeholders and are clear that allowing birds outside on 28 February, under enhanced biosecurity, provides the right balance between reducing disease risk and minimising the economic impact on Scotland’s vital free range poultry industry.”
Scotland’s Chief Veterinary Officer Sheila Voas said: “I am writing to all Scottish bird keepers registered on the GB Poultry Keeper database to make them aware of the changing requirements within the AI Prevention Zone, and to provide a checklist of steps to take before letting their birds outside on 28 February.
“Bird keepers will still have the option to house their flock, and for many this will continue to be the most practical way to comply with the requirements of the zone and minimise the risk of infection. However, under EU law, products from housed birds can no longer be marketed as ‘free range’ after 28 February.
“Expert advice remains that consumers should not be concerned about eating eggs or poultry and the threat to public health from the virus is very low.”