As of Monday 2 May, UK consumers can once again purchase free-range eggs, following a relaxation of Government measures introduced in November 2021, which required all farmers and keepers to keep their birds indoors and follow strict biosecurity measures.

The order was to help stem the UK’s worst-ever outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza. It has meant that the birds’ eggs could not be labelled free-range, as free-range eggs come from hens that have unlimited outdoors access during the daytime.

However, while poultry and other captive birds will no longer need to be housed, unless they are in a protection zone, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said other precautions to protect flocks remain in force.

These include owners maintaining stringent biosecurity standards and being vigilant for signs of the disease, as there have been recent cases of avian influenza in all parts of the UK.

Industry commentators have welcomed the relaxation of the UK’s bird flu rules, calling it a ‘great relief’ for the sector. However, as a spokesman for the NFU poultry board commented, everyone who keeps birds must understand that the threat has only been reduced.

Meanwhile, another problem for poultry farmers is the rising production costs brought about by the war in Ukraine, which is amongst the world’s biggest suppliers of wheat, a key ingredient in chicken feed.

As a spokesman for the British Free Range Egg Producers Association commented: “While it is a relief that the housing order has been lifted, it will not remove the huge hikes in energy, transport, feed and labour costs that its members are experiencing.”

For more information or advice on related matters, please contact our experts at Smailes Goldie today.

Posted in Agriculture, Blog.