The lifting of a legal requirement to confine or house poultry and other birds as a precautionary measure against Avian Influenza (bird flu) has been welcomed by the Irish Farmers Association.
Legislation requiring the confinement of birds was introduced on December 23 last and the decision to lift the confinement requirement dates from April 25.
No case of bird flu has been confirmed here in wild birds for eight weeks, the numbers of migratory waterfowl is reducing and there are increasing environmental temperatures and daylight hours.
Agriculture Minister Michael Creed said all poultry owners can now allow their birds access to open areas.
“However, owners should not be complacent as there is still the possibility of the virus being present in the environment or being transmitted to their flock by wild birds.
“Bird owners should continue to remain vigilant, monitor their birds for any signs of disease and implement strict disease control measures. In particular birds should be fed indoors or under cover where feasible,” he said.
Minister Creed said the change also means free range flocks will regain their status for the purposes of marketing free range eggs and poultry meat and there will no longer be a requirement for additional labelling.
However, only eggs produced and birds slaughtered from April 25 2017 can be marketed as free range.
Product produced prior to this date will have to be marketed as per the guidelines issued by his Department on March 8.
He also reminded all poultry owners, including those who keep small numbers of “backyard” poultry, of their legal obligation to register their premises with the Department.
IFA National Poultry Committee chairman Nigel Renaghan welcomed the lifting of the requirement to house poultry.
He said the measures implemented by farmers and the Department have ensured avian flu did not affect the commercial flock.
These secured the internationally recognised high health status of the national flock and proteced export markets and the livelihoods of poultry farmers, he said.
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