The Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) removed the requirement to keep poultry in higher risk areas of England housed or completely enclosed in netting.
Defra earlier announced that the risk of avian influenza has reduced sufficiently for all free-range hens in England to be allowed back outside in time for Easter.
It has advised that all areas of England should still be considered at risk from avian influenza, but free-range egg producers can let their birds outside again starting April 13 with additional biosecurity measures in place.
British Egg Industry Council (BEIC), which represents more than 95 per cent of UK free range egg production, welcomed the announcement.
“The UK has the largest number of free-range hens in Europe so we are delighted to be able to let all our free range birds roam freely again. We are proud of the high standards of British free range farms and will continue to maintain the highest standards of biosecurity to ensure that birds are protected from avian influenza,” said BEIC Chief Executive Mark Williams.
Egg producers in England will gradually introduce their free-range birds to roam outside again and all are expected to be outside by Easter. Producers in Scotland and Wales are also expected to do the same.
Poultry keepers are advised to minimize movement in and out of bird enclosures, clean footwear and keep clean and tidy the areas where birds live.