All bird keepers in Northern Ireland (NI) will be required to keep their birds indoors under the new housing measures announced by Minister for Agriculture Edwin Poots.
The housing measures will come into effect from 29 November.
This call comes on the back of the confirmation of 17 cases of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) H5N1 across Great Britain and one case in a commercial turkey flock in Co Monaghan.
The Department have put in place disease control zones around all infected premises to mitigate against onward disease spread.
It is now a legal requirement for all poultry and captive bird keepers to keep their birds housed or otherwise separate from wild birds
Flock owners must keep their birds indoors or otherwise separate from wild birds and follow strict biosecurity measures.
This includes owners of pet birds, commercial flocks or owners of just a few birds in a backyard.
Announcing the decision to introduce a housing order, Minister Poots said: “I took the decision to introduce the new housing measures in order to try to prevent an incursion of avian influenza into the poultry flock in NI.
“It is now a legal requirement for all poultry and captive bird keepers to keep their birds housed or otherwise separate from wild birds.”
The Minister said: “Since my decision to introduce the housing order, we have now discovered avian flu in two wild birds in Belfast – that tells us unequivocally that the disease is already here and in our wild bird population. Keeping it out of the commercial flocks is now down to our poultry sector and the measures they take to keep the disease out.
“Adhering to, and constant review of, all biosecurity measures is the best weapon we have to avoid an incursion.”
Minister Poots said that he will continue to liaise closely with stakeholders and colleagues the Republic of Ireland as the situation develops.
Poultry and captive bird keepers are advised to be vigilant for any signs of disease in their birds and any wild birds, and seek prompt advice from their vet if they have any concerns.
They can help prevent avian flu by maintaining good biosecurity on their premises, including:
How to register your flock
All bird owners are required to be registered with the department even if you only have one bird.
For bird owners in Ireland, please register by following one of these three options.