All bird keepers in Northern Ireland (NI) will be required to keep their birds indoors under the new housing measures announced by Minister for Agriculture Edwin Poots.

The housing measures will come into effect from 29 November.

This call comes on the back of the confirmation of 17 cases of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) H5N1 across Great Britain and one case in a commercial turkey flock in Co Monaghan.

The Department have put in place disease control zones around all infected premises to mitigate against onward disease spread.

It is now a legal requirement for all poultry and captive bird keepers to keep their birds housed or otherwise separate from wild birds

Flock owners must keep their birds indoors or otherwise separate from wild birds and follow strict biosecurity measures.

This includes owners of pet birds, commercial flocks or owners of just a few birds in a backyard.

Announcing the decision to introduce a housing order, Minister Poots said: “I took the decision to introduce the new housing measures in order to try to prevent an incursion of avian influenza into the poultry flock in NI.

“It is now a legal requirement for all poultry and captive bird keepers to keep their birds housed or otherwise separate from wild birds.”

Belfast cases

The Minister said: “Since my decision to introduce the housing order, we have now discovered avian flu in two wild birds in Belfast – that tells us unequivocally that the disease is already here and in our wild bird population. Keeping it out of the commercial flocks is now down to our poultry sector and the measures they take to keep the disease out.

“Adhering to, and constant review of, all biosecurity measures is the best weapon we have to avoid an incursion.”

Minister Poots said that he will continue to liaise closely with stakeholders and colleagues the Republic of Ireland as the situation develops.

Biosecurity measures

Poultry and captive bird keepers are advised to be vigilant for any signs of disease in their birds and any wild birds, and seek prompt advice from their vet if they have any concerns.

They can help prevent avian flu by maintaining good biosecurity on their premises, including:

  • Housing or netting all poultry and captive birds.
  • Cleansing and disinfecting clothing, footwear, equipment and vehicles before and after contact with poultry and captive birds – if practical, use disposable protective clothing.
  • Reducing the movement of people, vehicles or equipment to and from areas where poultry and captive birds are kept, to minimise contamination from manure, slurry and other products, and using effective vermin control.
  • Thoroughly cleaning and disinfecting housing at the end of a production cycle.
  • Keeping fresh disinfectant at the right concentration at all points where people should use it, such as farm entrances and before entering poultry and captive bird housing or enclosures.
  • Minimising direct and indirect contact between poultry and captive birds and wild birds, including making sure all feed and water is not accessible to wild birds.
  • How to register your flock

    All bird owners are required to be registered with the department even if you only have one bird.

    For bird owners in Ireland, please register by following one of these three options.

  • To register online, complete an electronic form and submit it directly to the Department.
  • Post a completed poultry registration application form (PR1 form) to your local Regional Veterinary Office (RVO). Find contact details of your local RVO here.
  • Telephone your RVO and they will post a PR1 form out to you which you can fill in and return to them.