ON 31 MARCH, poultry keepers in England, Wales and Scotland were once again able to let birds out to range, following a housing order that lasted close to 16 weeks.

The restrictions were replaced with an Avian Influenza Protection Zone (AIPZ), which makes a high standard of biosecurity a legal requirement.

See also: Defra issues new guidance as housing order ends

It is thought that the AIPZ will remain in place for some time, given recent detections of highly pathogenic H5N8 on a broiler farm in Staffordshire and captive falcons in a private premises close to Skelmersdale in late March.

In Northern Ireland, Daera has confirmed that the housing order will end on 13 April.

And in the Republic of Ireland, authorities have said the requirement to house poultry and other captive birds would end on 9 April. The housing order there was implemented on 21 December.

Western Europe

France has been one of the hardest-hit European countries this year, and the ministry for agriculture will produce a new ‘roadmap’ for the control of avian influenza.

Since 23 December, a policy of preventative culling has been in place for farms close to an outbreak in attempts to control the spread of the disease, which has been detected on more than 400 farms in the country this winter.

In Belgium, backyard poultry keepers were able to range birds from 6 April, with a provisional date for commercial flocks of 20 April.

The housing order remains in place in the Netherlands, with the most recent review on 23 March. Another review is set to take place shortly, with a date for the release of birds expected then.