Chief Veterinary Officer cautions poultry keepers about avian flu threat in Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland's Department of Agriculture has warned bird keepers about the “real and constant threat” of avian flu. 

The Department of Agriculture has warned bird keepers about the “real and constant threat” of avian flu. 

The disease is circulating across Britain and Europe with confirmed cases in wild birds in Northern Ireland. 

The Department has classified the current avian flue threat level as moderate with high uncertainty. 

The Chief Veterinary Officer for Northern Ireland, Dr Robert Huey said: “If avian flu 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.”

He added:  “Given the positive wild bird findings across various locations in Northern Ireland over recent months, and the start of winter migration, consistently high standards of biosecurity are essential.

“I encourage all keepers of poultry, including game birds and pet birds, whether you keep one bird or hundreds, to act now to carefully consider and improve biosecurity where possible to reduce the risk of transmission. 

The Department has advised that flock keepers can protect their birds by:

  • Keeping the area where birds live clean 

  • Controlling rats and mice

  • Cleaning footwear before and after visits

  • Placing feed and water in enclosed areas protected from wild birds

  • Removing spilled feed regularly

  • Putting fencing around outdoor areas

  • Avoiding keeping ducks and geese with other poultry species

Dr Huey stressed that bird keepers, with the exception of those who keep caged pet birds at home, must register and keep their details up to date on the DAERA Bird Register. 

He added: “Bird keepers who have not yet registered their birds should do so immediately.”

“Registration forms are available from the DAERA website or by contacting your local DAERA Direct Regional Office.”

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