By Neale McQuistin

Housing restrictions for poultry, that were introduced in mid-December due to the threat of Avian Influenza (AI), were lifted at midnight last night (March 31).

However, with a new case recorded in Cheshire last week, poultry keepers are urged to keep strict biosecurity measures in place and ensure contact between poultry and wild birds is prevented. The Avian Influenza Protection Zone (AIPZ) requiring enhanced biosecurity will remain in force across GB but yesterday was the last day poultry needed to be housed.

NFU Scotland’s poultry policy manager Penny Middleton said: “The decision to lift the requirement for all poultry keepers, large and small, to house their birds is great news. It reflects the hard work put in by all poultry keepers in complying with the rules and reflects the reduced risk Avian Influenza (AI) now presents.

“However, last week’s new case of AI in turkeys emphasises that high standards of biosecurity remain essential as infection may still be present in wild birds. All bird keepers, whether they have large commercial flocks or a few backyard hens, are legally required to meet enhanced biosecurity requirements under the AIPZ to protect their birds from this highly infectious virus.

“While the threat of AI has decreased, it is still incredibly important that everyone who keeps birds remains vigilant and, if you intend to allow your birds outside, you must take action to prepare the outside areas for their safe release”.

Market round-up

Messrs Craig Wilson sold 574 hoggs at Newton Stewart yesterday. Top trades were £150 for a heavyweight Texel and 306p/kg for a pen of Texels to average 264p/kg (+12p) overall.

The 361 Blackface hoggs averaged 267p and peaked at £130 for heavies and 277p/kg for a pen of lighter weights.

Cast sheep continue to be a strong trade topping at £150 for Texel ewes, while Mule ewes sold to £100 and Blackfaces peaked at £79.

C&D Auctions held its weekly sale of primestock in Dumfries yesterday.

Prime cattle sold to 252p/kg for a Limousin cross heifer from J Jardine, Yett to R Johnstone & Sons Butchers, Annan.

All classes of OTM’s continue to sell well with dairy types selling to £1228 and 170p to average 127p overall. Beef types peaked at £1,444 and 263p to average 146p.

The 371 prime hoggs were an end of season offering but best quality were still in big demand.

Top prices were £144 for heavy Texels and 324p/kg for lightweights. There were 145 hoggs sold which weighed between 39 and 45gk to average 287p.

The 159 cast sheep were sharper again this week. Heavy Texel ewes sold to £163, while Cheviot Mules peaked at £115 and Blackfaces sold to £89.