UK in no rush to house free range hens because of Avian Influenza threat

FREE RANGE egg producers in the UK should not be panicked into keeping their birds confined to the house, according to the British Free Range Egg Producers Association.

The advice follows news that the Dutch authorities have ordered that all poultry is kept inside for the rest of the year because of the threat of Avian Influenza.

There is a fear that the disease, which was found in Russian poultry flocks on Jul 21, may be spread across Europe by migrating wild birds.

A DEFRA spokesman told FW’s sister magazine Poultry World that it did not intend to follow the lead set by the Dutch authorities.

“These measures are not proportionate to the risk and we don’t know for sure whether the virus was spread by migratory birds,” he said.

The BFREPA said it agreed that birds should not be housed in the UK because the current threat did not justify such a move.

“The decision to restrict birds to the house cannot be taken lightly, particularly as the threat from AI could be with us for several months yet.

“Hens which are used to going outside every day could suffer from welfare problems – particularly stress – if they are suddenly denied this opportunity.”