Farmers in Northern Ireland have welcomed news that the avian influenza prevention zone (AIPZ) and ban on poultry gatherings, introduced in December 2020 by Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots, has come to an end. The measures were put in place to reduce the risk of AI to the poultry sector in Northern Ireland (NI).
DAERA officials worked closely with the poultry industry and bird keepers to ensure that strict biosecurity measures were deployed in and around poultry premises to help keep flocks safe. These interventions have been successful in helping to contain the disease and, as a result, the risk of bird flu in poultry with good biosecurity has now reduced to ‘low’ for all poultry across NI.
Minister Poots said: “This will be welcome news for bird keepers across Northern Ireland who have put great effort into keeping their flocks safe this winter.”
Ulster Farmers’ Union deputy president William Irvine said, “We recognise that the measures within the AIPZ were integral in protecting the health of poultry flocks and its due to the co-operation of our producers across NI and the swift action from DAERA, that measures were able to come to an end on 20 May.
“While there is a very low threat of infection at present, the risk has not fully diminished. Biosecurity should remain at the forefront of all keepers’ minds. Practicing good hygiene at all times is a vital part of any farm business and the cleansing and disinfection of hard surfaces, fencing off ponds or standing water and use of wild bird deterrents should continue. We urge all bird keepers to remain vigilant and to keep a close eye on flocks for AI symptoms. Any suspicion of disease or increased mortality needs to be reported to their vet or local divisional veterinary office immediately.
“We also encourage all flock keepers, especially those who have poultry in their backyard, to ensure they are registered with DAERA. This is key to controlling any future breakouts of AI. The only birds that are exempt from registration is pet birds that live inside the home. All other birds need to be registered and if they are not, this should be done as soon as,” said Irvine.