THE HOUSING ORDER, which has made it a legal requirement to keep all poultry indoors, will end on 31 March in England, Scotland and Wales.

Poultry farmers have been urged to use the next two weeks to prepare the ranges and outdoor areas.

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For example, hard surfaces will need to be cleaned and disinfected, ponds or standing water should be fenced off and wild bird deterrents must be reintroduced.

While the housing order will be lifted, an Avian Influenza Protection Zone, which makes high biosecurity a legal requirement, will remain in place.

The last confirmed case in poultry in Great Britain was over a month ago, on 12 February in Scotland, and the last wild bird finding was before that.

Public risk low

Public health advice is that the risk to human health from the H5N8 virus strain is low and from the H5N2, H5N5 and H5N1 virus strains is very low.

In a joint statement, Great Britain’s three chief veterinary officers said: “This will be welcome news for poultry keepers across the country who have put great effort into keeping their flocks safe this winter.

‘Low risk does not mean No Risk’

“We have taken swift action to contain and eliminate this disease, and all bird keepers – whether they have just a few birds or thousands – must continue do their bit to maintain strict biosecurity measures on their premises so that we do not lose the progress that we have made over the past few months as Low risk does not mean No Risk.”