NFU Scotland’s Poultry Working Group has welcomed the announcement that, from Monday, May 2, housing measures placed on birds in late November 2021 because of Avian Influenza will be lifted.

While poultry keepers will be keen to return free range birds outdoors, the warning is that the risk of Avian Influenza has only been reduced from ‘Very High’ to ‘High’ so poultry keepers, regardless of the size of flock, must continue to maintain high levels of biosecurity to protect flocks from the devastating disease.

Across the UK, there have been more than 100 Avian Influenza cases in the past six months, the largest number of outbreaks of bird flu ever recorded, with several incidents in Scotland.

NFU Scotland’s Poultry Working Group Chair, Robert Thompson said: “The protection of the national flock and our industry remains our main priority.

“After what has been an incredibly challenging time, we welcome the decision to allow the birds back outdoors.

"Our poultry keepers have been living with the threat from Avian Influenza for several years, but this year was exceptional and very large numbers of AI cases meant that the housing order has been in place for much longer than normal.

“It must be noted that the risk has only been reduced from Very High to High which means poultry keepers of all sizes preparing to release birds from May 2 onwards still need to maintain high levels of biosecurity and be vigilant, as this disease knows no boundaries.”