Regulations to prevent contact between poultry and wild birds, enhance on-farm poultry biosecurity measures and ban all bird gatherings (sales or shows) have been introduced by the Department of Agriculture.
The regulations were announced on Monday under the Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013 and will come into effect from Wednesday.
They require flock keepers to apply particular biosecurity measures for poultry and other captive birds in light of growing concern over highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), commonly known as bird flu.
There have been a number of reported cases of bird flu in wild birds in Ireland in recent weeks as well as elsewhere in Europe.
The Department has imposed regulations under the act which require further on-farm biosecurity measures including disinfection points at entry and exits to holdings, measures to prevent contact between poultry and wild birds such as greater bird netting, feeding indoors, securing feed storage and accommodation.
In addition, all bird gatherings including shows and sales have now been prohibited.
The Department says the biosecurity regulations are to be implemented by the keepers of all poultry (and other captive bird) flocks, irrespective of size, to help mitigate the risk of infection of their poultry.
Wild bird risk
The Department said: “This initiative is being taken following confirmation of HPAI H5N1 in wild birds in a number of counties since early November.
“These wild bird findings confirm that the avian influenza virus is currently circulating widely in the wild bird population in Ireland. This reservoir of infection in wildlife poses a risk to our poultry flocks and industry.”
The Department confirmed that “there have not been any outbreaks in poultry flocks at this time” and said it maintains “close contact with our counterparts in the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs” in Northern Ireland to manage the risk of wide spreading bird flu on the island.