21 February 1997

14.5m chickens get jabs in NI

NORTHERN Irelands poultry industry has agreed to vaccinate all 14.5m birds in the national flock to stem the spread of Newcastle disease.

Seven outbreaks of the disease, commonly called fowl pest, have been confirmed in the past fortnight across the Province.

All 405,000 birds on the infected units have already been slaughtered, and movement restrictions have been placed on other poultry farms within a 10km (6.2-mile) radius of the affected flocks.

About 2m birds within those zones have already been vaccinated. And, after meetings with department for agriculture officials early this week, the industry agreed that there should be a national, voluntary, vaccination programme.

Government has footed the bill for vaccinating flocks in restricted areas. But the £16,250 cost of protecting the remaining 12.5m birds will fall to the farmers.