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H5N8: Birds in England to be let outside
All poultry keepers must continue to observe strict biosecurity measures.
Chief vet announces end of housing requirement
 
All poultry in England will be allowed outside from 13 April, the UK’s chief veterinary officer has announced. The move follows updated evidence on the risk of avian influenza from wild birds.

A prevention zone was introduced on 6 December 2016, requiring poultry to be housed indoors, but from 28 February, only poultry keepers in the higher risk areas of England were required to house or fully net their birds.

The measure will now be lifted as the latest scientific evidence and veterinary advice concludes the threat to poultry in the high risk areas has lowered, and is now at the same level as the rest of the country. The majority of over-wintering migratory birds have now left the UK and resident waterfowl are at their lowest levels and entering the breeding season, when they will be less likely to travel long distances for food.

However, all poultry keepers must continue to observe strict biosecurity measures and a ban on poultry gatherings remains in force until further notice.

Chief veterinary officer Nigel Gibbens said: “This does not mean business as usual: the risk from avian flu has not gone away and a prevention zone remains in place, requiring keepers across England to take steps to prevent disease spreading.”

This includes minimising movements in and out of bird enclosures, cleaning footwear, keeping areas where birds live clean and tidy and feeding birds indoors. Keepers with over 500 birds will still be required to comply with additional requirements.

Avian influenza H5N8 has been found in wild and farmed birds in the UK since December 2016. The risk remains heightened and countries across Europe continue to see outbreaks. Defra is stepping up surveillance of wild birds in the UK to inform risk assessments.

Poultry keepers that are planning to let their birds out on Thursday are advised to take action now to minimise residual contamination in outdoor areas, and consult with their vet if they are concerned about the risks to their birds.

Defra guidance can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/avian-influenza-bird-flu#detailed-advice

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UK a step closer to ivory ban

News Story 1
 A UK ban on ivory sales is one step closer to coming into force, as the government has introduced the Ivory Bill to parliament. The ban covers items of all ages, rather than just ivory carved after 1947. Anyone breaching the ban will face an unlimited fine or up to five years in jail.

Conservationists have welcomed the bill, which comes less than six weeks after the government published the results of a consultation on this issue. Around 55 African elephants are now slaughtered for their ivory every day and the illegal wildlife trade is estimated to be worth £17 billion a year.  

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Strategic alliance to support development of agri-food sector

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Under the agreement, the organisations will pool their resources and expertise to support the development of the agri-food sector. It will work across three core themes: enabling innovation, facilitating new ways of working and partnerships.