Chickens are allowed to go outside again from midnight throughout the country. The national confinement obligation for poultry will then lapse for the whole of the Netherlands. According to outgoing agriculture minister Carola Schouten, this is now justified, because no wild birds have been found in recent weeks that were infected with bird flu and the number of infections is also decreasing in the rest of Europe.
According to the minister, animal welfare and the financial position of poultry farmers are also taken into account in the decision. The risk level has gone from ‘moderate to high’ to ‘moderate’. According to Schouten, the withdrawal of the confinement obligation ‘in no way means that the chance of contamination is now negligible’. The risk estimates are subject to a high degree of uncertainty, she emphasizes in a letter to the House of Representatives, because it cannot be ruled out that the virus is still circulating among wild birds.
Last month, the confinement obligation expired for seven of the twenty regions in total. At the time, Schouten did not think it was justifiable to abolish the national obligation to keep the cage. She hoped that a ‘step-by-step approach’ would offer the sector more prospects.
The national confinement obligation came into effect eight months ago, in connection with the discovery of a highly contagious variant of bird flu. No infections have been found on poultry farms in the Netherlands since 21 May. The confinement obligation has major financial consequences for poultry farms.
A number of measures therefore still apply. Litter on duck farms must be covered and keepers must observe hygiene measures. The previously tightened criteria for reporting a possible infection also continue to apply.
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