The legal requirement to house poultry and other birds as a precautionary measure against bird flu will be lifted from Friday 9 April, the Department of Agriculture has announced.

The legislation requiring the precautionary confinement of birds was introduced on the 21 December 2020 to mitigate the risk of avian influenza in poultry.

The decision to withdraw this requirement is based on a number of parameters which indicate a reducing risk of an avian influenza incursion, the Department has announced.

This includes the fact that no case of bird flu has been confirmed in wild birds for a period of eight weeks, reducing numbers of migratory waterfowl and increasing environmental temperatures and daylight hours.

Enhanced biosecurity

Removing the requirement to confine birds means that all poultry and bird owners may allow their birds access to open areas and runs from Friday.

The Department however is urging flock owners to remain vigilant as there is still the possibility of the virus being present in the environment or being transmitted to their flock by wild birds.

Further enhanced biosecurity measures such as; the requirement to ensure that poultry or other captive birds cannot come into contact with wild birds, that all areas that poultry and captive birds have access to must be fenced and that they are restricted from access to open or permanent standing water remain in place.

Restrictions on the assembly of live birds for the purposes of show or sale also remain in place.

Northern Ireland

Meanwhile, the housing measures to prevent bird flu on poultry farms in Northern Ireland are to lift at midnight on Tuesday 13 April.

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Bird flu measures in Northern Ireland to lift next week