Joy for free-range farms as chickens are released from bird flu lockdown

Whilst Covid-19 restrictions are changing for humans, another lockdown is ending down on the farm.

Since December all free-range farms have been ordered to keep poultry indoors to prevent the spread of avian influenza.

After 16 weeks of confinement free-range birds are now able to take their first steps back outside.

Chickens enjoying life outside Credit: ITV Border News

At Hamish Morison Poultry, a free-range egg farm near Earlston in the Borders, farmers said it was a joy to watch their chickens out in the field after so many weeks indoors.

"This has been a long stretch for us, a hard winter of keeping the birds inside which we don’t like to do. We want them to be outside,we are proud to be British free-range egg producers so we want them to be outside enjoying the range. You can see today from the feather cover of the birds there has been no stress, the birds have coped really well with being inside however they are extra happy today to be outside enjoying this spring sunshine." - David Wilson, Farmer

Credit: ITV Border News

To keep the birds happy their inside space has been constantly changed with enrichment ideas to keep them occupied.

The compulsory housing order has been lifted by chief vets from April 1, however as the disease remains a threat, precautions remain in place to keep the birds safe and to stop the spread of the disease.

The farm has implemented overalls, and boot covers as well as limiting access to visitors and disinfecting car wheels.