Compulsory housing order for poultry in Ireland extended

The compulsory housing order for poultry in Ireland has been extended to April 30 by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

The confinement order was introduced under the Avian Influenza Precautionary Confinement of Birds Regulations 2016.

This extends the requirement to confine/house poultry and other captive birds, which was declared as a precautionary measure against bird flu on December 23, 2016.

This housing order had been due to expire on March 16.

Continued findings of bird flu in wild birds in Ireland has led to the Department extending the compulsory confinement period as a precautionary measure, to protect the internationally recognised high health status of the national poultry flock.

The Department will be keeping this decision under regular review.

So far, bird flu has been identified in 12 wild birds in six counties since the end of December. There have been no outbreaks in poultry.

Since the end of October, the H5N8 subtype of avian influenza has also been responsible for a large number of outbreaks of the disease in wild birds and poultry in several European countries.

Implications for ‘Free Range’ produce

Under EU regulations, eggs and poultry meat may continue to be marketed as ‘free range’ for up to 12 weeks from when the compulsory housing order is brought into effect.

In Ireland’s case, the 12-week period is set to expire on March 17.

After this date, processors, producers and retailers in the free-range egg and poultry sector must make alternative labelling arrangements, the Department said.

These arrangements must be put in place to remain in compliance with the relevant EU provisions on marketing and labelling of their products, it added.

A guidance note on the marketing of free range eggs and poultry meat is set to be issued to the sector by the Department this evening.

The Department would also like to remind those involved in arranging bird gatherings that these take place under a general licence, the terms of which place responsibilities on organisers of such events.

Under the terms of these licences, a particular emphasis has been put on the need to provide advance notification to the Department when organising a bird gathering and the application of bio-security measures.

The Department says that it is continuing to monitor and assess the disease situation and that it is maintaining close contact with the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs in Northern Ireland on this matter.