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Northern Ireland declares poultry housing order

hens in a barn

POULTRY keepers in Northern Ireland will have to house birds from midday on 28 November.

The housing order, already in place in England, legally requires owners of pet birds, commercial flocks, backyard and hobby flocks to keep their birds indoors or otherwise separate from wild birds.

See also: Your questions on avian influenza insurance answered by an expert

It is part of the Avian Influenza Prevention Zone in NI. Wales and Scotland are yet to announce housing measures for poultry.

So far this year in NI, there has been one confirmed case in a captive bird holding and, since April, there have been 21 confirmed wild bird cases.

Positive cases in wild birds, commercial and backyard flocks, across Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland, continue to occur and, in recent months, have been on the rise.

Biosecurity

Chief veterinary officer Robert Huey said: “In order to protect the national flock, we must try to avoid a repeat of last year, which was NI’s worst ever outbreak of avian flu and resulted in the cull of approximately 80,000 birds.

“This is devastating for the owners and has the potential to savage our £450 million poultry industry.

“Avian flu is a cunning and determined virus and will exploit any and all gaps in your biosecurity, which is the best defence you have against an outbreak.

“No one is safe from an incursion, and cases in NI will increase significantly over the coming months unless we all take immediate action now.”