According to current legislation, movements of poultry that originate or end in an Avian Influenza Prevention Zone or a Surveillance Zone must be appropriately licensed by the APHA before they can take place. For specific licences such as the movement of birds to slaughter, a veterinary inspection to determine the health status of the birds is a pre-requisite for issuing the licence.
This can place a considerable resource burden on local veterinary resource, particularly in locations where there have been a high number of cases in poultry. Additionally, some poultry keepers have raised biosecurity concerns about inviting additional personnel onto their poultry site.
During the 2022/23 AI outbreak, the APHA successfully trialled remote veterinary inspections for movement licensing as a way to reduce pressure on private veterinary resources. Poultry keepers could either video or live-stream an inspection with a suitable qualified veterinary inspector. Following up to this, Defra is now seeking views on proposals to allow remote inspections on a permanent basis.
The three key options being considered by Defra are:
- Baseline: Maintain the current legislation - i.e. remote inspections will not be permitted and pre movement inspections will continue in person
- Option 1: Amend the legislation to allow remote inspections for movement of birds to slaughter only
- Option 2: Amend the legislation to allow remote pre-movement inspections for licensed movements including birds to slaughter, brood and move and movement of point of lay pullets.
Defra has expressed that option 2 is their preferred option from those outlined above.