The restrictions for the housing of birds has been lifted during the bird (or avian) flu epidemic.

From today (13 April) bird or poultry owners will no longer need to house or have complete netting covering their stock.

The advice comes from the UK’s Chief Veterinary Officer following updated evidence on the risk from wild birds.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) says it requires all keepers to continue to comply with strict biosecurity measures which means all poultry keepers must continue to take steps to reduce the risk to their birds, including minimising movement in and out of bird enclosures, cleaning footwear, keeping areas where birds live clean and tidy and feeding birds indoors.

The ban on gatherings of poultry, such as at shows or fairs, remains in place.

Isle of Wight Council regulatory services manager, Amanda Gregory, said:

“We welcome the news from Defra that keepers can once again allow their birds outside. It is reassuring to see that to date existing Defra contingency plans have contained and isolated the outbreak and I’d like to thank the Island bird keeping community for following this advice. The Trading Standards Service continues to monitor the situation and to work closely with other local services, interested parties and DEFRA.

“However, I would remind poultry keepers that H5N8 avian flu in wild birds remains a threat to poultry and kept birds across the UK and keepers must comply with strict biosecurity measures. Keepers of birds are urged to be vigilant and to maintain good hygiene practices when dealing with their poultry and should also consider how to isolate the birds that are normally kept outside, from wild birds, should the need arise.”