Avian flu warning sign© Tim Stewart News/REX

Movement restrictions placed on a 1km zone around a Hampshire poultry farm following the outbreak of the low-pathogenic bird flu have been lifted by Defra.

Poultry keepers will now be able to transport birds, eggs and by-products such as manure, off farm 21 days after an initial cleansing and disinfection.

Defra said this was the earliest point at which it could remove control measures under EU rules, reflecting a “robust and thorough approach” to tackling the outbreak.

See also: Chief vet’s views on AI outbreak

Secondary cleansing and disinfection is now under way at the broiler breeder farm in Upham, near Winchester, Hampshire, that was hit by low-pathogenic H7N7 avian influenza (AI) on 2 February. Site owner Andrew Mackenzie has said a target date for its conclusion is 7 April.

“Our focus remains on ensuring a swift, compliant secondary clean and disinfection with all stakeholders endeavouring to accelerate that process,” he told Poultry World.

We recognise the importance of dealing with the incident effectively,” Mr McKenzie added. “We have been impressed by how professionally everyone has responded.”

The cost of cleansing, disinfection and removal of material on the farm is met by its owner. 

Trade

While Defra has removed its restrictions on poultry movement, the UK is not officially AI free until 90 days after this secondary cleansing in the eyes of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE).

And until this point, a number of third countries will refuse to accept poultry products from the UK. One example is South Africa, an important market for dark cuts of poultrymeat.

Biosecurity

Chief vet Nigel Gibbens said the outbreak should serve as a reminder to the poultry industry of the importance of strict biosecurity.

“Protecting our country from animal disease is important for our economy, and our robust and thorough approach to tackling this outbreak quickly means we have been able to lift these restrictions at the earliest possible point allowed by EU law.

“I would urge keepers to remain vigilant for any signs of disease and report suspicions to their vet immediately.”