Thousands of commercial and backyard chicken owners in Golden Plains have been allowed to reopen their coop doors after a bird flu lockdown.
Since August, all poultry owners in Golden Plains Shire were ordered to keep their birds locked up to avoid spread of the deadly and highly-infectious bird flu after it was first detected at an egg farm in Lethbridge.
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As of 11.59pm on Saturday, owners throughout the shire were allowed to let their birds free range again except for those located in a restricted zone around Lethbridge.
The lockdown applied to all poultry producers, backyard flock owners, bird owners and pet owners within Golden Plains Shire. For bird owners in the restricted area the lockdown was extended until October 19.
But restrictions remain on movement of birds, bird products and equipment which cannot be moved in to or out of Golden Plains without a permit which means eggs, manure and birds cannot be sold or given away at farm-gate, off property or markets.
Avian influenza was confirmed at four farms near Lethbridge, one near Bairnsdale and an emu farm near Kerang. Thousands of birds were culled to prevent its spread.
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"Avian influenza can be spread between locations by movement of eggs, birds, people, vehicles and equipment between farms and by clothing, footwear, aerosols, water, feed, litter, wild birds, biting insects and vermin," an Agriculture Victoria spokesperson said.
Keeping the birds locked up was a key measure to help prevent the disease taking hold in the wild bird population where it could easily spread.
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