The Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) says the Northern Ireland (NI) poultry industry is moving in the right direction as poultry producers prepare to release their flock into controlled outdoor areas putting appropriate biosecurity measures in place. The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) Minister Edwin Poots, has announced that housing measures for poultry and captive birds will be lifted at midnight on Tuesday 13 April.
UFU poultry chairman Ronnie Wells said, “The announcement by Minister Poots that the end of the housing order will come into effect early next week, is positive news and will be well received by our members. However, whilst some may think this symbolises the end of the risk period, this is not the case. It is important that bird keepers remain vigilant as migratory birds are still present, therefore the risk of avian influenza (AI) remains.
“There have been recent cases reported in Great Britain within commercial poultry flocks. With that in mind, both farmers and backyard flock keepers need to continue to keep the risk of avian flu to the fore of their mind. For those who have housed birds during the last number of months, now is the time to prepare for birds returning back to the range after 13 April 2021. I encourage members to ensure that strict biosecurity measures are put in place and maintained, including the cleansing and disinfection of hard surfaces, fencing off ponds or standing water and the reintroduction of wild bird deterrents.
“When the birds are allowed out, all poultry and captive birdkeepers will need to continue taking extra biosecurity precautions. It is vital that everyone pays extra attention to cleaning and disinfecting equipment, clothing and vehicles. Access should be limited to essential visitors only on sites, and workers need to change clothing and footwear before entering bird enclosures. All these biosecurity measures are equally as important for backyard keepers as well as poultry farmers,” said Wells.