UFU urges vigilance following avian influenza reports

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The Ulster Farmers’ Union is urging poultry farmers to be vigilant following a high number of confirmed cases of avian influenza across Europe.

The disease has been found, mainly in wild birds, in Hungary, Poland, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and the Netherlands.

UFU poultry chairman Tom Forgrave said: “While there are no issues for food safety, avian influenza is a serious, notifiable disease for farmers. Many cases have been in wild, migratory birds. It is important all bird keepers have their flocks registered with DAERA and practice high standards of biosecurity. This applies as much to small flocks as large commercial units. All farmers must ensure their facilities are as secure as possible, given the threat this potentially devastating disease poses to an industry vital to the local economy,” he said.

Advice is that bird keepers should be on alert for any signs of the disease. If they suspect birds have avian influenza they should immediately contact their own vet or DAERA divisional vets. “I would also advise all poultry farmers to plan now, how they would implement emergency procedures, should they have to do so. This would allow birds to be housed and separated if there is any cause to concern,” said Tom Forgrave.

Both DAERA and the UFU are committed to doing all that is necessary to keep the disease out of Northern Ireland, and are working closely with DEFRA in England to monitor wild bird and other risks. For further information visit https://www.daera-ni.gov.uk/