The threat posed to the poultry sector by bird flu will extend beyond the risk period facing the Christmas-focused turkey sector, with laying hens and broilers in bird flu’s firing line for the foreseeable future, IFA poultry chair Nigel Sweetnam has warned.

Sweetnam told the Irish Farmers Journal that while a real risk is posed to turkey producers, who rely on a narrow and upcoming slaughter window for the majority of their annual sales, egg and chicken producers will have to safeguard their flocks beyond Christmas.

“Turkeys are getting a lot of attention in this but there is a lot more in the sector beyond turkeys.

“These producers will be dealing with this beyond Christmas,” he said.

The poultry chair stated that the IFA’s focus remains on preventing the disease from spreading and he urged turkey rearers who would usually kill in batches to operate an all-out policy where possible this year, to help reduce the risk of introducing bird flu into turkey houses.

“We are just looking now to contain the problem, to limit it to the one unit if possible.”

He commented that farmers in counties Cavan and Monaghan faced particular difficulties in staving off the disease, as the high number of lakes in the area attracted large numbers of wild fowl which spread bird flu.

The density of poultry units in the region is also working against farmers trying to keep their units safe.