Avian influenza update: Biosecurity is a recurring theme of the poultry management notes for which I make no apology.
The Poultry Health and Welfare Group recently delivered its third series of avian influenza roadshows for poultry producers at Greenmount, at which there was full attendance. The incidence of avian influenza or bird flu is a concern at this time every year, with cases following the migratory paths of wild birds. The bird flu virus has already been identified this summer in Italy and Switzerland. Here in Northern Ireland we have some protection by our western position. As producers we should protect this advantage by adopting the highest level of hygiene and biosecurity at all our sites.
DAERA and DEFRA have recently produced more guidance for poultry keepers which provides four key tips on cleaning, feeding, fencing and staying aware. By law, suspicion of bird flu is notifiable and an outbreak can affect poultry movement and trade. Any very sick birds or unexplained deaths must be assessed by your vet.
Tip 1 Cleaning
Clean footwear before and after visiting your birds. Keep areas clean and tidy and regularly disinfect hard surfaces. Humanely control rats and mice.
Tip 2 Feeding
Place your birds’ food and water in fully enclosed areas that are protected from wild birds and remove any spilled feed regularly.
Tip 3 Fencing
Keep your birds separate from wildlife and wild fowl by putting suitable fencing around the outdoor areas they access.
Tip 4 Stay aware
Check the DAERA website (www.daera-ni.gov.uk) for the latest bird flu advice and how to register your birds, if you have not already done so.
For larger sites there are company specific biosecurity programmes and health plans set out for your benefit to help protect both your farm and that of your neighbours. It is incumbent on us all, large and small, to adhere to this and DAERA’s guidance.
Exporting poultry manure and litter
As the year end approaches it is useful to remind you of your obligations under the Nitrates Action Plan 2015-2018 and the Phosphorous Regulations with regards to manure export.
The regulations are concerned with controlling the amount, type and timing of manure spreading on the land to prevent leaching or run-off into water courses. An important part of manure management is also the export of manure to other farmers or facilities.
If you are importing or exporting organic manures including anaerobic digestate you need to keep a record of the quantity and type of each manure moved on or off your holding, the date of any movements and the name and address of who it was imported from or exported to. This applies regardless of whether the imports/exports are within Northern Ireland or elsewhere. In addition, when manure is exported, the farm business identification numbers of importers must be recorded. If a third party transports the manure, their name and address must also be recorded. A template for recording this information can be found in Annex N of the Nitrates Action Programme 2015-2018 and Phosphorous Regulations Guidance Booklet which you can download from the DAERA website. Records of manure exports must be submitted to the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) by 31January for the previous calendar year.