Avian influenza as been detected in Northern Ireland for the first time since Great Britain was struck in December. A wild swan has tested positive for H5N8.
Ulster Farmers’ Union poultry chairman, Tom Forgrave urged poultry keepers to ensure they are prepared to deal with the threat of highly pathogenic AI.
“Whether your poultry flock is large or small, please ensure that all biosecurity measures are in place and are as robust as possible to protect the health of the flock,” said Forgrave. “Given the spread of the disease in wild birds, flock owners must continue to comply with the Avian Influenza Prevention Zone, which requires that all poultry and captive birds in Northern Ireland be kept indoors, or otherwise kept separate from wild birds,” he said.
“Poultry keepers, especially those within poultry production, are well-briefed on biosecurity measures and good practice regarding the threat of HPAI but given the continued spread of this disease in the wild bird population, vigilance must be heightened,” said Forgrave.
The UFU’s advice is: Bird keepers should be on alert for any signs of the disease. Any farmer that suspects their birds are showing signs of avian influenza should immediately contact DAERA divisional vets. All poultry farmers should plan now, how they would implement emergency procedures should they have to do so. Ensure that you feed and water birds indoors wherever possible to avoid attracting wild birds onto their premises. Review biosecurity protocols. Plan ahead for the possibility of other measures being brought in and most importantly be vigilant.