Biosecurity is the key to protecting flocks from ILT

The Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) says poultry farmers and backyard keepers need to ensure they have strict biosecurity measures in place.

Saturday, 19th June 2021, 12:00 pm
UFU Deputy President William Irvine on his County Armagh farm. Picture: Cliff Donaldson
UFU Deputy President William Irvine on his County Armagh farm. Picture: Cliff Donaldson

The comments followed the recent announcement by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) as it confirmed a number of flocks contracted infectious laryngotracheitis (ILT) in Northern Ireland (NI).

UFU deputy president William Irvine said: “ILT is extremely infectious. While the disease isn’t as life-threatening to birds as avian influenza with flocks normally recovering after ten days of infection, it can still impact a farm business significantly. It will greatly reduce production creating financial implications. Symptoms include coughing, sneezing and increased mortality.

“To prevent the disease from spreading and to protect all flocks and farm businesses across NI, biosecurity is crucial. All poultry and bird keepers need to review and heighten their biosecurity where necessary. All movement in and out of bird enclosures should be minimised, clean footwear before and after visiting birds, keep farms clean and tidy regularly disinfecting hard surfaces, and ensure rats and mice are controlled.”

It is also vital that any farmer who has poultry that tested positive for the infection, stores manure on-farm for as long as possible and spreading should be avoided at all costs. Any poultry farmer who is planning on spreading poultry manure on land, especially if imported, needs to ensure the flock has not been infected.

  All bird keepers to keep a close eye on flocks for symptoms. Any suspicion of disease or increased mortality needs to be reported to their vet or local divisional veterinary office immediately.

The registration of all birds within NI is key to controlling disease outbreaks such as ILT in NI.

“I cannot stress enough how important it is for backyard keepers as well as poultry farmers to ensure their flock is registered with DAERA. Backyard keepers are those who have birds, regardless of how many, residing on their premises for personal use.

“This includes hens housed in gardens. Registration does not only apply to poultry farmers and the only exception to registration is pet birds that live inside the home.

“All other birds need to be registered and if they are not, this should be done as soon as,” said Mr Irvine.

To register your flock, visit the following link, https://www.daera-ni.gov.uk/publications/bird-registration-form.