Poultry producers urged to remain vigilant for H5N1

Poultry producers in Northern Ireland are being urged to remain vigilant for the signs of H5N1 avian flu as the spring wildfowl migration season approaches.

The Department of Agriculture of Northern Ireland said at the recent meeting of the Poultry Association, Northern Ireland near Cookstown, Co Tyrone, that it was important to remember that it remains a real threat to the poultry industry.

“The weather forecast predicts a period of very cold weather in Siberia, the same conditions that caused a huge movement of waterfowl and other birds towards the UK just prior to the Cellardyke swan incident.

DARD added that cage birds pose a particular risk in that in the cage situation, virus spread is very slow and the disease is not accompanied by high mortality, as is in other situations. “We need to remain vigilant, as the first signs of flu maybe as simple as a small drop in production, a drop in water consumption or a slight increase in mortality.

“If we don’t detect the disease early and quickly, there may have been massive spread and many flocks in an egg collection round maybe classed as dangerous contacts. This would bring the industry to a standstill.

“So if you have any concerns about your flock, contact your vet or packer.”

Meanwhile, Finland’s outdoor ban on poultry comes into force later this week which forces producers to house their birds. The ban, which lasts through the end of May, aims to prevent contact between poultry and wild birds that may carry the H5N1 avian flu virus.