Leading veterinary organisations have issued a statement describing the updated Avian Influenza security measures as "sensible and proportionate".

The British Veterinary Association (BVA) and British Veterinary Poultry Association (BVPA) issued the statement after the Government announced plans to update the temporary measures to contain the disease.

From February 28 the Government anticipates adopting a more targeted approach with mandatory biosecurity measures across the country and continues housing.

These measures will then be reviewed at the end of April 2017.

Currently, anyone who keeps poultry of captive birds is required by law to house them or, otherwise, keep them separate from wild birds to reduce the risk of disease spreading.

The proposed temporary measures are designed so keepers can allow birds outside from February 28, whilst still taking reasonable precautions against Avian Influenza during the current outbreak.

A spokesperson said: "These measures, informed by the best scientific evidence available in what is a complex situation, are sensible and proportionate.

"We reiterate the calls from bird keepers in the Higher Risk Areas to keep their poultry separate from wild birds by housing or netting.

"We know that for farmers and bird keepers in the higher risk areas this will not be the news they were hoping for but it is vital that these important precautions are taken to protect the health of birds.

"We would also strongly emphasise the need for bird keepers who are not in the higher risk areas to maintain the highest standards of biosecurity, heeding the advice of government, and to remain vigilant to signs of the disease. Any suspicion of Avian Influenza should be reported to the Animal Plant and Health Agency immediately.”