THE UK has declared self-declared freedom from highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) for Great Britain, effective from 29 March 2024.

The declaration has been reviewed and published by the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH). This follows Northern Ireland’s declaration of freedom on 31 March 2023.

See also: Study reveals cost of switching to slower-grown chicken

The UK has faced its largest-ever outbreak of bird flu, with over 360 cases confirmed across the country since late October 2021.

Defra said in a statement: “We have had no recent cases of avian influenza in kept birds with the last case confirmed on 14 February 2024.

“The current risk to poultry from HPAI H5 in Great Britain is low. However, HPAI H5N1 continues to be found at low levels in wild birds in Great Britain and across Europe with outbreaks occurring in poultry and other captive birds in several countries in Europe.

Biosecurity

“Keepers should remain vigilant and practice stringent biosecurity to protect the health and welfare of their birds.”

Despite lower cases, legislation is being updated to prepare for future outbreaks. Defra recently confirmed that the 16-week marketing derogation for free-range eggs would be removed.

It will also become compulsory for keepers of any number of poultry to register their birds.