Avian influenza restrictions are to be removed

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The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) has confirmed that the current Avian Influenza Prevention Zone, which is due to expire on 31 May 2017, will not be renewed.

As a result, the ban on shows and gatherings of poultry, waterfowl and game birds will also be lifted. A new general licence for bird gatherings will come into force. The removal of the prevention zone and the ban on gatherings are both subject to no further reports of disease.

Armagh County Agricultural Show (ACAS) has welcomed the DAERA decision.

“This means that poultry classes will take place as normal,” confirmed ACAS chairman Stephen Hamilton.

“The poultry marquee is always a major attraction at Armagh Show. Given the restrictions that have been in place over recent months, this year’s event takes on added significance for poultry enthusiasts.”

Armagh Show takes place in Gosford Forest Park on Saturday June 10.

First out of the traps with its poultry classes will be Lurgan Show. The event takes place next Saturday, June 3.

A Lurgan spokesman said: “The Committee is especially pleased with the good news that the poultry section will be able to be held, given the lifting of the Avian Influenza restrictions.

“Lurgan Show has, traditionally, held poultry classes. It is an event that has always had an excellent display of a broad range of poultry and waterfowl classes.

“Once again, we will pull out all stops to ensure the section proves popular with show-goers.”

Saintfield Show, which takes place at Balmoral Park on Saturday June 17, has also confirmed that it will have a full complement of poultry classes taking place at this year’s event.

“We normally have around 400 poultry exhibits at the Show,” confirmed Saintfield Committee Member Robert McKibbin.

“We welcome the DAERA decision to remove the Avian Flu restrictions. We are also extending the close-of-entry date for the poultry classes for a week up to Tuesday June 6.

“This will give breeders sufficient time to respond to the new arrangements.”

On December 23rd last DAERA introduced a Northern Ireland-wide Avian Influenza Prevention Zone and suspension of poultry gatherings in light of the then heightened risk of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza H5N8 in the UK.

The Department of Agriculture in Dublin introduced similar measures at the same time, which were subsequently relaxed four weeks ago.