All movement restrictions have now been lifted following the outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza (AI) on a Lancashire farm last month.
As such, all poultry-keeping farms within 10km of the infected premises at Goosnargh are now allowed to move poultry and other animals without having to apply for licences.
The move comes 21 days after the completion of an initial cleaning and disinfection of the premises.
Defra says it is pleased with the speed with which it has been able to reach this position.
“Our robust, swift and intensive approach to tackling this incident means we have been able to lift these restrictions at the earliest possible point allowed by EU law,” said Defra chief vet Nigel Gibbens.
“The impact of an incident on our £3bn poultry industry should not be underestimated.
“As well as the restrictions it places on businesses within the UK, it can have an impact on our ability to trade with other countries, which is why it is so important that we do everything we can to contain and eliminate disease whenever we find it.
“Recent cases all demonstrate that we have the right framework in place to deal with a disease like AI, and to minimise its effects on other farmers, the industry and the economy.”
“Our robust, swift and intensive approach to tackling this incident means we have been able to lift these restrictions at the earliest possible point allowed by EU law”
Nigel Gibbens, Defra
But the UK remained at a constant low risk of an incident of avian influenza, Mr Gibbens added, and this latest case should serve as a reminder of the importance of maintaining strict biosecurity.
Any suspicions should be reported to vets immediately.
Tests confirmed the Lancashire incident was a highly pathogenic H7N7 strain of the disease, which may have mutated from a low-pathogenic strain.
Initial epidemiology reports suggest the most likely source of infection was direct or indirect contact with infected wild birds.
All 180,000 free-range and caged birds on the premises were humanely culled within five days.
No further cases of avian influenza have been identified.
Good biosecurity measures include
- Strictly limiting and controlling access to poultry flocks
- Preventing wild birds from access to poultry flocks, food and other things that come into contact with domestic poultry
- Wearing clean overalls and footwear when entering poultry farms. Protective clothing and footwear should be removed and either cleansed and disinfected, laundered or disposed of after use
- Cleansing and disinfecting all vehicles after each journey to a poultry farm
- Having disinfectant and cleaning material ready at farm entrances, so essential visitors can disinfect themselves before entering and leaving premises
- Supply only clean fresh drinking water to birds
- Feed bins, hoppers and feeding equipment must be cleaned and maintained regularly
- Feed should only be obtained from a mill or supplier that operates in accordance with relevant Defra, Agricultural Industries Confederation or credible assurance