DEFRA has confirmed that the housing order will still be lifted on 31 March, despite two new avian influenza cases over the weekend.

Highly pathogenic H5N8 AI was detected in a flock of broilers near Uttoxeter, East Staffordshire, and a low-path strain of H5N3 was discovered in a flock of 4,500 breeding turkeys close to Winsford, Cheshire.

See also: How to prepare poultry ranges for the end of the housing order

Before those cases, there hadn’t been any avian influenza found in commercial poultry since early February.

While the housing order is still set to be lifted, an Avian Influenza Prevention Zone will remain in place, making biosecurity a legal requirement.

A Defra spokesperson said the new cases did not affect the overall risk level but demonstrated there was still a chance of AI infecting flocks.

Good biosecurity

“Avian Influenza Prevention Zones with additional compulsory housing measures were put in place late last year following a number of confirmed cases of avian influenza in England,” they added.

“Housing is not a replacement for good general biosecurity and all bird keepers regardless of flock size must continue to follow the enhanced biosecurity measures set out in the GB-wide avian influenza prevention zone and to be vigilant for any signs of disease.”