AVIAN INFLUENZA has been confirmed in a Scottish free range laying flock.

The 'low pathogenic' strain of the virus is thought to have been contracted from wild birds – but since confirmation late last week, and swift action to contain the case, all restrictions on the affected site have since been lifted.

NFU Scotland this week reminded its members of the guidance around the disease. A spokesperson said: “Although the case which is in the news has been dealt with, all restrictions lifted on the farm, and should cause no alarm to egg producers or to consumers, it is pertinent time to remind all poultry keepers to adhere to the strict biosecurity requirements set out by the Scottish Government to ensure Scottish eggs are of the highest quality, health and safety standards.

“All the possible steps must be taken to ensure that poultry, and other captive birds, are protected against contact with wild birds. It is important to avoid the transfer of contamination into and between premises and to minimise the movement of people, vehicles and equipment to areas where captive birds are kept.

“Before allowing poultry or other captive birds to use a range after a period of housing, the range must be checked and any obvious contamination from wild birds (such as faeces or feathers) must be removed," advised the union.

“Discourage wild birds from using range areas, e.g. through the use of (wild) bird-scarers, decoy predators, and/or netting smaller range areas. Regularly check the health status of your birds, observe them closely and report any signs of disease to your vet. Whether housing birds or not all keepers should take all practical biosecurity steps to prevent infection.”

Back in December, all 27,000 birds at a commercial poultry farm in Suffolk were culled after a number were found to have the H5 strain of avian flu, identified as 'low pathogenic'.