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DAERA issue warning to poultry farmers and pet bird keepers following confirmed UK Avian Influenza

Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots and Northern Ireland’s Chief Veterinary Officer Dr Robert Huey have urged all poultry and pet bird keepers to take action now to reduce the risk of birds contracting Avian Influenza over winter.

The warning follows confirmation of Avian Influenza H5N8 at a commercial holding in Cheshire and Low Pathogenic Avian Influenza (LPAI H5N2) at a small holding in Kent.

Minister Poots said: “Northern Ireland is currently free of Avian Influenza but these current cases being confirmed in Cheshire and Kent are timely reminders that it is a constant threat. As we are now entering the high risk period for the disease due to the winter wild bird migrating season, it is vitally important that all keepers of poultry, including game birds and pet birds, take action now to carefully consider and improve biosecurity to reduce the risk of transmission of disease to their flocks.

“If Avian Influenza were to enter any flock, including backyard or hobby flocks, it would have a devastating effect on the poultry industry and would significantly impact international trade.”

The Chief Veterinary Officer for Northern Ireland, Dr Robert Huey, said: “Following the confirmations of Avian Influenza H5N8 in Cheshire and Low Pathogenic Avian Influenza H5N2 in Kent, I would urge all poultry keepers to take action now to keep your birds safe and reduce the risk of disease over the high risk winter period. 

Please continue to adopt good biosecurity measures on your premises and review business continuity plans. Remain alert for any signs of disease.  Should you suspect disease in your birds please report it immediately to your local DAERA Direct Office on 0300 200 7840.

“I would like remind all bird keepers of the need to register your flocks. This enables the Department to contact you in the event of an outbreak of avian disease, giving you the earliest opportunity to protect your flocks. I would also encourage bird keepers to subscribe to the Avian Influenza text service by simply texting ‘BIRDS’ to 67300. Subscribing means you will receive any important disease information immediately.” 

The Department is encouraging all poultry keepers to remain vigilant as we enter this high risk period. Critically review your biosecurity arrangements and become familiar with the signs and symptoms of the disease, which can be found on the DAERA webpage at Avian Influenza Clinical Signs

As soon as you suspect any sign of the disease you must contact DAERA immediately.  Early reporting is critical.

  1. Bird flu is a notifiable animal disease. If you suspect any type of bird flu you must report it immediately by calling the DAERA Helpline on 0300 2007840.  Failure to do so is an offence.             

  2. An avian influenza leaflet detailing biosecurity advice can be downloaded at www.daera-ni.gov.uk This will also provide simple measure flock keepers can take to protect their birds against the threat to the avian influenza including:

  • Keeping the area where birds live clean and tidy, controlling rats and mice and regularly disinfecting any hard surfaces

  • Cleaning footwear before and after visits

  • Placing birds’ feed and water in fully enclosed areas that are protected from wild birds, and removing any spilled feed regularly

  • Putting fencing around outdoor areas where birds are allowed and limiting their access to ponds or areas visited by wild waterfowl

  • Where possible, avoid keeping ducks and geese with other poultry species.

  1. If you find dead wild waterfowl (swans, geese or ducks) or other dead wild birds, such as gulls or birds of prey please report them to DAERA on 0300 200 7840.

  2. For more advice and up to date information, please follow DAERA’s Twitter and Facebook pages.

  3. All poultry and other birds must be registered with DAERA. The application form is available at www.daera-ni.gov.uk/publications/bird-registration-form