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Avian Influenza Update

Avian Influenza Update

From today the Avian Influenza (AI) Prevention Zones in England, Wales and Scotland have been in place for 12 weeks.  In Northern Ireland the 12 week period will be at an end on the 17th of March 2017.

After today the prevention zones will still be in place, but the security measures you have put in place will change depending on where you are in the country. For the most up to date information on the requirements where you live please refer to your regional Defra updates.

In England, all poultry keepers across must continue to observe strict biosecurity measures, with housing or netting required in higher risk areas identified on their interactive map. The new approach now gives most keepers in England the option to let birds outside whilst still taking reasonable precautions against avian flu.

In Wales, Scotland and outside the higher risk areas in England, all poultry keepers - whether they keep a commercial flock or a few chickens in their back garden - must continue to practice strict disease prevention measures, but, if appropriate, can let their birds outside provided they follow Defra’s guidance and take steps to reduce the risk of infection via the environment.

If your birds are situated somewhere where you are required to continue housing your birds beyond 12 weeks it will not be possible to label or market eggs or poultry products with any reference to free range status.

The use of the labelling term organic is controlled by different legislation from that which governs the ‘free range’ term. DEFRA has confirmed that products can still be labelled Organic where the Prevention Zone restrictions require you to continue to house your birds, however, it is essential that all other aspects of management must continue to meet the organic standards.

There is some guidance on labelling requirements on the Defra website but if you have any detailed queries about the use of the term Free Range on your poultry products you should refer to your local Trading Standards Office. If you have any questions or require further clarification regarding organic labelling and requirements during this period please speak to your Certification Officer.  

We have issued Soil Association producers with advice on ensuring that birds have access to enrichment while they are indoors.  For any more information on this please visit the site here: 

We will be updating information on the website as we obtain it and will be ensuring there is information available for consumers on there as well when required.