The Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs has announced a new Avian Influenza Prevention Zone, in place from 28 February until 30 April.
Lesley Griffiths has also confirmed there will be some important changes to the measures that will apply within the new all-Wales Prevention Zone.
The current Prevention Zone requires all keepers of poultry and other captive birds to keep their birds indoors or take all appropriate steps to keep them separate from wild birds, and to enhance biosecurity. This follows a number of confirmed cases of Avian Flu across the UK, including in a backyard flock of chicken and ducks near Pontyberem, Carmarthenshire.
Expert advice suggests it is unlikely the current level of risk will change before the current Prevention Zone is scheduled to end on 28 February. In view of this, and following consultation with industry and veterinary representatives, the Cabinet Secretary has decided to put in place a new Prevention Zone, that will take effect from midnight on 28 February.
The new Avian Influenza Prevention Zone requires all keepers to complete the Welsh Government Avian Influenza Prevention Zone Self Assessment Form of biosecurity measures on their premises. The objective being to keep domestic flocks totally separate from wild birds by continuing to keep birds housed or using other measures, which may include permitting controlled access to outside areas, subject to the introduction of additional risk mitigation measures.
Clare Morgan, Poultry Board Chairman said: “We welcome this announcement from the Cabinet Secretary that provides a proportionate response to the disease risk posed and gives clarity to the industry on the situation in Wales.
“Importantly the conditions around the new Prevention Zone provide the opportunity, subject to meeting the appropriate conditions, for producers to maintain the free range status of their flocks. All producers now need to carefully consider the options open to them, undertake the risk assessment process that has been developed by Welsh Government and put in place the appropriate risk mitigation measures.
“In particular, producers who decide to let their flocks outside should use the next fortnight to prepare their range accordingly in line with the advice by provided by Welsh Government.
“We would highlight that this is a process that all poultry producers, no matter the size of their flock, must undertake to ensure that everyone does their utmost to minimize the risk of this disease getting into the Welsh poultry flock.
“The free range poultry industry is important to the Welsh agricultural industry. Hundreds of Welsh farmers have invested heavily in free range poultry units to provide meat and eggs, which are in high demand by the British public. We would urge all keepers of poultry, including backyard flocks, to undertake the assessment without delay.”