All bird keepers in Northern Ireland have been reminded of the need to keep their birds and poultry housed, as part of the ongoing bid to combat the growing threat of bird flu in Northern Ireland.

Mandatory housing measures for all kept birds and poultry came into force across Northern Ireland at midday on November 28, 2022, meaning that all bird keepers are legally required to keep their birds indoors or otherwise separate from wild birds.

With positive cases in wild birds, commercial and backyard flocks continuing to rise in recent months across the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland, Chief Veterinary Officer Dr. Robert Huey is reminding all keepers of the legal requirement to keep their birds housed to prevent a disease incursion here.

Dr Huey said: “Bird flu is a devastating disease and has the potential to seriously damage our poultry industry.

“I would like to remind all bird keepers, including owners of backyard and hobby flocks, pet birds and commercial flocks, of their legal obligation to adhere to the housing order requirements, which are there to protect your flock.

“The welfare of housed birds is also important during this time. Housing may impact their wellbeing, especially if they’re not used to being kept indoors for long periods.”

It is therefore essential that keepers look after their birds welfare by:

  • Making sure they are not overcrowded;
  • Making sure they have natural light where possible;
  • Monitoring the temperature inside the housing;
  • Ensuring the birds have enough ventilation, food, and fresh, clean water.

Dr. Huey continued: “Bird flu remains a serious threat in Northern Ireland and we must continue to be vigilant.

“We cannot afford to get complacent. Excellent biosecurity remains the most effective defence for reducing the transmission of this disease.

“I would remind all bird keepers of the importance of adhering to the enhanced mandatory biosecurity measures currently in place.”