The UFU has welcomed the lifting of the the avian influenza prevention zone (AIPZ) across Northern Ireland (NI), as well as the reauthorisation of poultry gatherings from Thursday May 20.

The relaxed measures were put in place by NI Minister for Agriculture Edwin Poots in December 2020 to combat the spread of the bird flu.

UFU deputy president William Irvine greeted the news, while acknowledging the necessity of the restrictions to safeguard the flocks of NI’s producers over the risk period.

“We recognise that the measures within the AIPZ were integral in protecting the health of poultry flocks and it’s due to the co-operation of our producers across NI and the swift action from DAERA, that measures were able to come to an end on 20 May,” Irvine said.

Remaining vigilant

Irvine went on to remind bird keepers of the need to remain vigilant of the disease, taking all necessary precautions and following DAERA recommendations.

“While there is a very low threat of infection at present, the risk has not fully diminished. Biosecurity should remain at the forefront of all keepers’ minds.

“Practicing good hygiene at all times is a vital part of any farm business and the cleansing and disinfection of hard surfaces, fencing off ponds or standing water and use of wild bird deterrents should continue.

“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,” stated Irvine.

Flock registration

“We also encourage all flock keepers, especially those who have poultry in their backyard, to ensure they are registered with DAERA. This is key to controlling any future breakouts of AI,” the UFU president said.