UFU respond to confirmation of recent Avian Influenza outbreak

Thursday, 7 January, 2021

The Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) is deeply concerned following confirmation on 6 January from the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) of an Avian Influenza (AI) outbreak on a poultry farm in Clough, Co. Antrim.

UFU deputy president William Irvine said, “Our thoughts are with the farm family affected by this AI case. A farm is more than just a business, it is a passion and a way of life and the aftermath of this outbreak will have a detrimental impact on the family.

“It is vital that in response to this outbreak, all poultry and bird keepers across Northern Ireland review and heighten their biosecurity where necessary to protect their farm business and the entire sector from further infection. All birds should now be housed including backyard flocks, after housing measures came into effect on 23 December 2020. All movement in and out of bird enclosures should be minimised, clean footwear before and after visiting birds, keep farms clean and tidy regularly disinfecting hard surfaces, and ensure rats and mice are controlled.

“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.”

The registration of all birds within NI is key to controlling AI.

“I cannot stress enough how important it is for backyard keepers as well as poultry farmers to ensure their flock is registered with DAERA. Backyard keepers are those who have birds, regardless of how many, residing on their premises for personal use. This includes hens housed in gardens. Registration does not only apply to poultry farmers and the only exception to 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 Mr Irvine.

To register your flock, visit the following link, https://www.daera-ni.gov.uk/publications/bird-registration-form.

DAERA also has a text alert service which bird keepers should sign up to. Through this system they will receive immediate notifications if there is a disease outbreak. To subscribe to the text alert service, text BIRDS to 67300.