Poultry Keeping – Defra Update: What It Means For You

We have all been waiting for the news that it is OK to let our hens free range, and its great news that from the 28th February Defra have lifted the general prevention zone measures across the country, however strict bio-security measures still need to be maintained and there are still localised high risk zones where poultry and captive birds must remain housed away from wild birds.  Such areas close to us are the Pevensey Levels and Rye Marshes, where the risk from wild/migratory birds is still considered higher.

Defra Update Map of restricted areas
Defra Update: Map of restricted areas

Those of you who don’t fall within one of these highlighted (HRA) areas are permitted to allow your birds to free range; however, Defra states: “All poultry and captive bird keepers in England must comply with a set of minimum biosecurity standards whether you are in the new HRAs or outside them, regardless of flock size.” The following is copied from the guidance notes on the Defra website:

All bird keepers must now take extra biosecurity steps, including:

  • minimising direct and indirect contact between poultry or other captive birds and wild birds
  • making sure that feed and water can’t be accessed by wild birds
  • taking all reasonable precautions to avoid the transfer of contamination between premises, including cleansing and disinfection of equipment, vehicles and footwear
  • reducing the movement of people, vehicles or equipment to and from areas where poultry or captive birds are kept
  • implementing effective vermin control programmes around buildings where poultry or captive birds are kept
  • thoroughly cleansing and disinfecting housing and equipment at the end of a production cycle
  • keeping Defra-approved disinfectant at the right concentration at key points such as farm entrances and entrances to bird houses (NOTE: This item is mandatory for all poultry keepers with more than 50 birds)


Active steps to separate your flock from wild birds, in particular from wild ducks, geese and gulls, include:

• Outdoor areas/ranges where birds are allowed temporary access must be fully fenced and birds must not be allowed to roam outside this area;

• Regularly check the range for the presence of wild birds and take active steps to remove or deter any you find. If you find dead wild birds remove (in a bio-secure manner ) the carcases and report any ducks, geese or gulls to the Defra Helpline;

• Net/cover ponds and permanent standing water within the fenced area and fence off any wet or boggy areas and standing water, where this is not possible use an alternative paddock/range that doesn’t have access to water;

• Take measures to discourage wild birds (in particular ducks, geese and gulls) from using range areas, for example use of visual bird-scarers , scarecrows, decoy predators or other methods;

• Remove any feeders and water stations from the range, or ensure that they are covered to sufficiently restrict access by wild birds;

• Regularly clean and disinfect any concrete walkways and hard standing areas, where poultry or wild birds have access, or where these may have been contaminated.


Of course it goes without saying to check the Defra website regularly for updates, and we will also be keeping our blog and website updated as regularly as possible.

We also stock a Defra-approved disinfectant by the name of Bi-OO-Cyst and is available in our shop or for delivery via our website.

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