AI prevention zone extended, NI poultry producers prepare

Poultry producers in Northern Ireland have been reminded that they need to be prepared for the extension of the Avian Influenza Prevention Zone, which comes into force today (Friday, 17 March).

The Prevention Zone is being extended to 30 April and provides keepers in all areas of Northern Ireland with the option to let their birds outside, subject to them applying additional biosecurity mitigation measures.

Closeup of a hen in a farmyard (Gallus gallus domesticus); Shutterstock ID 99611336; PO: aaf online
Closeup of a hen in a farmyard (Gallus gallus domesticus); Shutterstock ID 99611336; PO: aaf online

New Prevention Zone puts onus on producers

Northern Ireland’s Chief Veterinary Officer Robert Huey said to bird keepers: “There is risk of infection from wild birds in the coming weeks. The changes to the new Prevention Zone are proportionate and place the onus on the keeper to select the best option for their circumstances to protect their birds.

“Poultry keepers will have the option to voluntarily house their birds, and for many this will continue to be the most practical way to comply with the requirements of the zone and minimise the risk of infection, but it will have implications for labelling their produce as free-range.

“If they choose to let their birds out, they must ensure compliance with the additional biosecurity mitigation measures.

“The new approach will give keepers options and allow free-range production to continue,” he added.

Backyard flock keepers should register birds

Registered poultry keepers will receive a letter making them aware of the changing requirements within the Prevention Zone. This will include a checklist of steps to take before letting their birds outside on 17 March.

State vets are also urging backyard flock keepers to register their birds.

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