BFREPA response: Defra implements avian influenza prevention zone

7 December 2016

BFREPA response: Defra implements avian influenza prevention zone

Robert Gooch, chief executive of BFREPA said: “Defra’s decision to implement a prevention zone in England is a necessary step in response to the rapid spread of avian influenza (AI) across Europe.

“The risk of infection is from wild migratory birds who are leaving cold weather feeding grounds and could head to the UK, carrying with them the potential to bring the H5N8 strain to our shores.

“It would be devastating for a British producer to have to go through the heartbreak of seeing their entire flock wiped out by this virus as we have already seen in continental Europe.

“Housing birds presents significant challenges to free range egg producers but they understand that it is important to reduce the risk of AI spreading

“It’s crucial for consumers to remember that AI is not a food safety issue and free range eggs will remain a nutritious staple of British diets.”

Notes to editors

  • Defra’s housing order will remain in place for 30 days. Full statement here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-measures-to-protect-poultry-against-avian-flu
  • The Scottish Government has also imposed a housing order. Full statement here: http://news.gov.scot/news/avian-influenza-protection-measures
  • Free range egg producers will retain the ability to market their eggs as free range for the duration of the order.
  • Free range egg producers prefer to give their hens the choice to go outside during daylight hours, but with the threat of AI will take steps to increase the amount of stimulation for the hens inside the house.
  • Some will place footballs, pecking boxes, enhanced scratching areas and natural vegetation like tree cuttings to encourage the birds to continue to display their natural behaviours.
  • BFREPA is the voice of the British free range egg industry representing producers who look after more than 11 million laying hens.